Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Walking to wellbeing

Last week I sponsored my sister to walk 7 miles for the British Heart Foundation with three work colleagues and a dog. Between them they raised over £300 for the charity. But as an added bonus, they probably raised their mood too. It is a well-known fact that walking is seriously good for your mental health.

By coincidence, there are two back-to-back Awareness Weeks this month trying to get us walking (and exercising generally) more regularly as a way of improving our mental (and physical) health. We're already four days into the first - which is Get Walking Week, 4 - 11 May. A Ramblers' survey found that "a quarter of adults walk for no more than one hour each week." Yet, according to Dr Stuart Biddle, professor of physical activity and health at Loughborough University, there is "long-standing evidence to support a link between walking and mental health benefits.... Walking can elevate a person's mood, lessen feelings of depression and allow a person to think more clearly."

So, what did you do for the bank holiday if you didn’t have to work? Did you walk anywhere? Did it make you feel better? And if so do you plan to continue walking regularly for health, pleasure or both?

Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week 13 - 19 May (OK, you have a day off to rest on 12 May!) Promoted annually by the Mental Health Foundation, this year the theme just happens to be "physical exercise and activity, highlighting the impact they have on mental health and wellbeing."

Brecon and District Contact Association has organised an event on Wed 15 May at The George Hotel in Brecon to coincide with the week. "Walking in circles without going giddy, has the psychiatrist gone mad?" is a talk by Kate Dufton on labyrinth walking.

Ponthafren Association has organised various events throughout the week, including outside games, spinning and Zumba. You can link to a poster here.

For those who find their walking turning into more of a jog (and day-dreaming of crossing the marathon finish line somewhere soon) read Clare Allen on the mental health benefits of running.

But if you’re just starting out and fancy some company on your walks, try these Trail Tempters - free guided walks in various parts of Powys, anything from 1.25 - 7 miles - and chance to chat to other walkers too.

The sun is out, the skies are blue and the hills are green and beckoning... now I just need to persuade Laura that I should be out there doing real research about the benefits of walking to my mental health...


  1. Well you've convinced me. Now I just need to run it past the people who fund us to do all this office work ...

  2. Perhaps GPs should consider referral for green exercise as a treatment option for patients experiencing mental distress?