Thursday, 3 July 2014

The 7 day walking challenge...

Last month the Guardian's Live Better project's focus was Health and Wellbeing. The challenge was to walk for 30 minutes every day for a week.

The health benefits of regular walking are many: lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, some cancers and diabetes. Aside from the physical benefits to the body, walking is good for the mind. It's mood boosting and keeps the brain's circuits connecting healthily.

I've often blogged about family walks (remember last year's river walks?) and I have a friend with whom I try and walk once a week. (We say that we're 'power walking' to elevate the activity's status!) Its always therapy for us; we've walked our way through everything from bereavement and marital breakdown to issues with our children and career dilemmas.

Walking's wonderful and you need no special gear to do it, just a pair of legs and comfy shoes. 

Yes, I'm a keen walker, and we're fortunate that despite living very near the centre of town we can also be walking in green fields within 5 minutes of home. There should be absolutely no excuse for not being able to fit in a 30 minute walk every day for seven days, right? Easy peasy, I thought.

Shady path not far from home

Surprisingly, it was a genuine challenge! Over the course of a week, I heard myself deliver all sorts of excuses.

Here's how it panned out:

Day 1 Thursday 19 June: 
Excuses: "I've got too much to do!" and "It's too hot!" 
Solution: I had an errand to run that if I walked it, involved a long shady track, and if I took the long way home, would meet the 30 minute target.
Result: Errand ticked off, and a walk! Win!

Day 2 Friday 20 June:
Excuses: "I've got too much to do! I won't fit in a walk"
Solution: It happened to be Olympic fun run day at work, so I walked around the route with a lad I work with. 
Result: Getting paid to walk! Win!

Day 3 Saturday 21 June:
Excuses: "I'm too tired and it's too hot!"
Result: Although I walked up to town and back twice at different times and was on my feet for most of the day, I didn't fit in 30 minutes of continuous walking so I reckon this was a Fail!

Day 4 Sunday 22 June:
Excuse: "It's too hot!
Solution: Daughter and I were in Bradford-on-Avon for most of the day for musical reasons. When Daughter wasn't rehearsing or performing we relaxed in the shade but we also slapped on our sun hats and slopped on the suncream and walked by the canal, which was partly in shade anyway. (On this occasion the health benefits of the walking may have been outweighed by the large blackberry icecreams we ate at the end of the walk...)
Result: Not outdone by the weather! Yummy icecreams! Win!

Day 5 Monday 23 June:
Excuse: "It's too late and I'm too tired!"
Solution: In our town, with my phone on me, and when the evenings are so light, I feel safe taking a walk at 9.45pm. The other advantage of a late walk is that the temperature has dropped and it's pleasantly cool.
Result: A cool walk! Win!

Day 6 Tuesday 24 June:
Excuse: "Too hot!" (Are you starting to see a pattern emerging here...?)
Every other Tuesday involves an hour where I'm waiting for a child whilst they play in string group. Sometimes I read, sometimes I chat to another mum, and sometimes I do two laps of the very large school field which amounts to half an hour's walking.
Result: I told myself it was way too hot so I wouldn't walk, however by the time we got to the school there was a pleasant breeze. I could have walked but I hadn't got any sun protection with me, so I didn't. Fail!

Day 7 Wednesday 25 June:
Another evening walk.

What did I learn?

  • For me, the best option to make sure I get enough walking into my week is to try and incorporate it into other aspects of daily life: running errands and whilst waiting for children.
  • The perfect weather for a walk in the UK is a rare thing. It may be unusually hot at the moment (and perhaps I was silly to choose midsummer week for my challenge) but if it's not hot then it'll more likely be rainy or too cold. Fortunately a half hour walk doesn't require expensive Gore-tex but making sure I have the right sun protection or wet weather gear with me at the right time will increase the likelihood of completing a walk.
  • Although I felt tired beforehand, an evening walk gives a beneficial energy boost. There were no early morning walks for me this particular week but they similarly are a great way to start the day.
This month the Guardian Live Better project's focus is on saving water and the challenge is to restrict your showers to four minutes. Now this one should really be easy peasy shouldn't it?


  1. Getting paid to walk is the best :) What helps me is to have a friend to do with me. otherwise, I'm usually too lazy :)

    1. Yes, an exercise buddy is a really good motivator.

  2. I found how to stop saying "I can't walk today" I rescued four dogs who whine, jump and run to the back door with every flinch I make until they're taken out lol. Win, win, exercise for me and a lovin home for the pooches

    1. Shame cats don't need walking. I'd be sorted then!