Walking is one of the most amazing physical activities possible for a number of reasons. It is something that almost all of us can do and it is hugely beneficial to the body and mind. Walking has no apparent negatives and it allows us to engage with the people, animals, and the natural world all around us. Given holidays also feature pretty highly on most people’s lists of favourite things, combining the two would seem to be as sure a recipe for success as a cake with icing on top.
Considering first the health benefits of walking, it is widely regarded as one of the safest forms of exercise there is. Highly recommended by the UK’s National Health Service it (would you believe ) requires no special training or equipment and is suitable for all ages. More importantly, it has been shown to reduce the risk of several serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, asthma and some cancers and forms of diabetes.
Now, that alone should be enough to get most people reaching for their shoes; but in addition it is also very effective at managing weight as, at the right intensity, it will burn off the fat. It can also help reduce blood pressure and, best of all, walking is a tremendous mood-booster. No point living forever if you’re stressed out, right?
Whilst many of those benefits can be gained from other sports and physical activities, another huge plus of walking is that it doesn’t strain the body like so many other exercises can. Running and many other high-impact sports put huge strain on the joints (especially the knees), bones, and muscles and can very easily lead to injury or long-term complications.
So now we’ve established that walking is great for the body, but what about the mind? Well, numerous studies have shown that regular walking increases energy levels, improves overall mood, lowers levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol, and can increase self-esteem. What makes this even more exciting is that there is increasing evidence to suggest that many of these benefits are enhanced by walking outdoors in natural surroundings.
The fitness, health, and medical professionals are all increasingly coming to the view that outdoor exercise is best and it seems such a logical, natural point that it’s hard to disagree. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that walking through fields of wild flowers (Switzerland in spring is hard to beat) is going to be more beneficial to your stress levels than walking through a busy shopping centre. Equally, from a fitness perspective, walking over uneven tracks, up and down hills and through fields is both more natural and more physically demanding than walking on a treadmill in a sweaty gym.
And, as if all this wasn’t enough, walking past awe-inspiring waterfalls, through sun-dappled forests or alongside lakes replete with birdlife feels a lot less like exercise and a lot more like fun. Would you rather be watching the pedometer or the watch in your gymnasium or trying to spot wildlife out in the clear, fresh open air?
And just to leave you with one final benefit of walking holidays, let me point out that destinations as diverse as Malta, Portugal, France, Costa Rica, the south of Spain, or Cuba will all be around 20 degrees Celsius or more in October. A healthy body, a happy mind, stunning scenery and the sun on your back: what doesn’t sound perfectly amazing about that?
David Ryan is an avid traveler who is looking to take in as much of the world as possible. David loves writing and reading travel blogs to get inspiration for his next holiday trip.