“Walking is man’s best medicine” – Hippocrates
I’m sitting back reminiscing about my trip to Europe last year thinking how healthy and full of life I felt. We walked miles every day. In Santorini we meandered through the streets, took a trip down to Oia and walked down to Ammoudi Bay for a dip in the ocean. Along the way we saw these gorgeous donkeys carrying people up and down the 300+ steps to Ammoudi Bay.
I couldn’t bring myself do it, the poor donkeys looked so tired, so we walked…and again back up to the top.
In Rome we opted to walk instead of taking public transport everywhere we went. We’d wake up and walk to a cafe for breakfast, walk to see the sights, walk to dinner and walk…or stumble…home after a few carafes of red wine. We hiked from one village to another in Cinque Terre and we roamed the streets of Paris until our little legs could roam no more.
Here at home, we drive absolutely everywhere. We even drive down to the beach to go for a planned walk.
If given the choice to walk or drive what would you choose? Now I understand that wandering the ancient streets of Rome and exploring the back streets of Florence on holiday is far more appealing than walking along our main roads, lugging lap tops and handbags to work, but I never realised how sedentary our everyday life is, and how we actually have to make a conscious effort to move our bodies.
I started to pay more attention to how much energy I was actually expending every day.
Now, I am an active person. I exercise regularly, I teach Booty Barre and Pilates, I push my body but during the day I sit on my backside for eight hours in front of a computer screen. According to my Fitbit it is not unusual for me to max out my step count at 1500 steps during the day. Considering a healthy step count is 10,000 steps this is pretty sad. Now, this skyrockets after work on the days that I actively exercise but what about the days I choose to have a rest – 1500 steps which usually consists of walking to and from the car and taking the odd bathroom break.
On a weekend I will easily hit 10,000 steps by 2pm from incidental exercise – walking around the shops, grocery shopping, strolling around the markets etc. Add a Pilates class into the mix or an active walk on the beach and we are sitting pretty, but that’s two days out of seven. So it’s pretty clear that living an active healthy life, requires conscious effort for most of us.
I actually follow a Paleo lifestyle 90% of the time. Admittedly my bloodtype is O and according to the experts this means I am of hunter gatherer extraction, and when you consider the caveman diet and the lifestyle of the hunter gatherer, walking was at the core. Our ancestors did not wake to a plentiful supply of food, they had to walk and forage to find food. By this stage they had worked up an appetite and they satisfied it with the food that they stumbled upon. I am a big believer in eating when you are hungry, not eating because society says that it is the right time to eat….
Anyway, whilst in Europe I realised just how much I enjoyed going for long walks and how beneficial it was not just for my body but for my mind. Since we returned home, I have started adding long beach walks into my schedule and it’s been amazing. My Mum and I have used these walks as time to catch up and reconnect and I personally use them to get grounded in nature. Walking barefoot in the sand is so therapeutic as is soaking up all the negative ions from the crashing waves. Take a look at all the dogs on the beach, frolicking in the waves, little ears flapping in the wind and being completely full of joy. It is clearly good for the soul.
So whether it’s a walk on the beach, through a park, or around your neighbourhood, walking can be so peaceful, relaxing, and it gets the step count up. So put on your walking shoes, or a pair of thongs that you can rip off once your toes hit the sand and go for a nice long walk, and make a habit of it.