Nordic Walking Instructor and health blogger Claire Winter from Stealth Health tells us why walking is good for your mind and body.

Walking is free, fun and helps you get fit. You can be any fitness level and being in nature is clinically proven to improve your levels of happiness.

So really there is no excuse. A report by the Ramblers and Macmillan Support details the benefits of walking. The report says that if people took up regular walking, just 150mins a week. The amount recommended by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, it could save 37,000 lives a year. There would also be 300,000 fewer Type 2 Diabetes cases.

You don’t need a gym or to attend a class you can just put some comfortable shoes on and go.

If you want a full body workout – you could also try Nordic walking you use 90% of your muscles and burn more calories than normal walking.

The physical benefits of Nordic Walking are:

–    you tone the upper and lower body at the same time

–    it reduces the pressure on knees and joints

–    it is great for cardiovascular health

–    it’s good for your posture and if you have any neck, knee or shoulder problems

Specially designed Nordic walking poles, help propel you along. It is also used as an effective cross-training technique by sportspeople for cardiovascular workouts and endurance training.

I like walking because it’s sociable, you can chat as you go along and participants enjoy the sense of community too. The other benefits are:

–    You can walk anywhere, including snow, the countryside, parks, and varied terrain.

–    Suitable for all ages and fitness levels

–    No need for specialist clothing

–    It’s easy to learn

–    It makes you feel good

According to government guidelines you should be walking for 150 minutes a week, that could be broken down into 30 mins of exercise – 5 days a week.

Here are some tips on starting.

–    Walk to work. If you travel to work on a bus or tube, get off a few stops early and walk.

–    Lunch break, take half an hour to go for a walk in a nearby park or just around your town centre.

–    Arrange with friends to take a walk at the weekend

–    Join a rambling group or Nordic Walking class. Websites like Britain On Foot https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/britain-on-foot and the Ramblers http://www.ramblers.org.uk/ and British Nordic Walking https://britishnordicwalking.org.uk/apps/store-locator are great to find groups near where you live.

Walking is a great way to stay active and improve your fitness, it is also good for the mind. It can boost mood, creativity, memory, and even the way you think.

I’ve been privileged to introduce people to the benefits of walking. We’ve walked in the snow, rain, and mud. Once you get outside and enjoy the benefits of the free, outdoor gym, you’ll never look back!

Photograph Jodie Humphries

Claire Winter is a journalist and health blogger. She runs Nordic Walking Classes in Maidenhead and the surrounding area. To find out more go to stealthhealth.co.uk.  You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram