Walking for Health | Walking for Pleasure
Don't let age, infirmity or disability prevent you from walking in the countryside!
In a time of dissonance and disagreements, one thing I hope we can all agree on is that we are lucky to live in such a beautiful country, especially during the summer months. This time of year is wonderful for getting out in the open air and enjoying the British countryside. And the best way to really see and appreciate our glorious landscapes is to walk through them. Walking is an underrated passtime and an excellent form of excercise. Not only is walking completely free but it can also be enjoyed by people of any age, as proved by the star of this article, nonagenarian, Mary Adams.
You wouldn't believe it to look at her, glowing with health and vitality as she is, but Mary is in her 90's. An insignificant fact which in no way deters her from living a full and active life! Mary walks every day, whether to the village Post Office and back or over the Quantock Hills. It is an essential part of her daily routine. I sat with Mary in the cosy kitchen of her hill-top cottage, over a delicious de-caff coffee to talk about her lifelong passion.
"I've alway been a walker, and I've always loved hill walking. I like the rythmn, the speed of it, very much. I think it's just right for the human."
Several times a week, I pass Mary in the village on one of her regular circuits or walking back from the shops. I am always hugly uplifted and inspired to see her smiling face. She's well known in the village for her youthful spirit and intrepid hill walks; "I think I'm famous as Mary with the sticks. If I leave them in the shop everybody knows whose they are." Mary uses trekking poles, she began with one but says two takes the weight better and is more balanced. "I like to walk on my own, which doesn't mean I don't like to walk with other people, I do, but walking alone means you can really be in
the place where you are, in touch with it. You can really see a flower, hear a bird, absorb a tree. It's a way of becoming part of the landscape and not always thinking about yourself." I heartily agree, I love to walk both with and without other people. I find walking is a great time to talk if you're out with other people. Something about the movement helps to move things along in the conversation. Time spent walking alone calms the brain and settles the mind. When we've had a tough day or a fall out with someone, walking is a great way to return to a state of calm and to reflect on things.
Let's not forget the physiological benefits of walking.
"I do walk every day, it's a disgrace if I don't walk one day. Because I know at my age, if I stop it will be very hard for me to start again."
Mary calls walking a first class exercise. It is great for the circulation and keeping the heart pumping and of course its excellent for the lungs and resparitory system. "I do a certain amount of walking just for the exercise. My local walks include a lot of up and down. When you can get up the hills without getting ot of breath you know you're getting on ok!" Mary is out in most weather, though if it's really too bad, she can be found pacing the room and walking circuits around the house! "I'll do around 20 mins, about 60 circuits round the kitchen and living room." Having seen Mary several miles from home on a few occasions, I asked how far she usually walks? "I don't know how far I walk in a day, I walk a lot less than I used to, I used to walk for about 2 hours a day. These days I only do a long walk now and again. I love a big walk where you stay overnight somewhere. The longest one I did was into the Lott Valley, that was on my own. Some people need a purpose to go for a walk, particularly a big walk. Identifying flowers for an example. "To have a point, other than reaching your destination, can help to keep you in the present moment. Until you get the idea of just being there, and then that is your purpose."
Not everyone can walk, but everyone should have the opportunuty to ramble!
"If you've got a reasonably fit body and you're confident of what it can do, walking is a pretty foolproof way of getting somewhere. Though that does depend on having a good pair of legs!"
If a minor injury or pain has stopped you in your tracks, a good walking cane could be all you need to keep you mobile and take some of the weight.
We are not all blessed with the use of our legs and many have mobility issues to some extent. But whatever the condition of your apendages, you can still benefit from fresh air and exercise. Continuing to stay active is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing. If you don't have a good pair of legs, walking may be out of the question but rambling needn't be. Anyone with mobility issues who loves to get out into the countryside should refer to the Disabled Ramblers website
. Here you will find a wealth of information including Access Laws and a calendar of planned rambles accross the uk.
Thanks for reading folks, now get up and get out there!
I'll let Mary have the last word... "Walking is the best excercise, it's vital to health, wellbeing and happiness. It takes you out of yourself. If you don't want to do exercise, Walk!"
Read more articles of interest at Blue Badge Co.