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Walking does wonders for our overall health and wellbeing and is a simple way to get some daily exercise. I’ve been doing lots of walking recently, and not only has it made me feel calmer, increased my energy, and helped me burn a few extra calories, but I’m convinced it is helping me manage my chronic pain better.
I’ve mentioned how much I love walking in some of my previous blog posts:
For me, any type of movement is naturally going to help me manage and reduce my chronic pain because I am in pain when I sit down (catch up with my blog post I have a sitting disability. Oh and a few other chronic pains?to learn more). A huge part of my pain management, and encouraged by my physio, is to move as much as possible to help?loosen my muscles. This stops them getting tight, forming knots, and causing additional pain elsewhere in my body.
Why walking is important for me
Due to my many years of abnormal sitting, I have what I call, secondary symptoms – pain which is as a result of avoiding my coccyx pain. The main symptom I have is intense neck pain. I’ve had lots of physiotherapy to try to help reduce this pain, and finally I am at a stage where I am now attending maintenance sessions every 6-8 weeks; which is far better (and cheaper) than my weekly sessions I was having. This maintenance treatment helps keep on top of things and in theory stops my pain getting worse, as long as I do all my other things to help – moving, using physio tape, and sitting as normally as possible. The latter is hard, but I have to weigh up the best of two evils and it is far easier coping with just my coccyx pain and not my neck pain as well.
The health benefits of walking
Walking has numerous health benefits, such as:
- Burning more calories and helping with weight control.
- Improving our overall mental wellbeing, including our mood, which in turn can reduce stress and anxiety.
- Reducing the risk of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and dementia.
- Strengthening muscles and bones.
- Increasing productivity and creativity.
Read more about the health benefits of walking?here.
I love going for a walk in the sunshine and fresh air, and even in the rain if it?s not too cold or windy. Sometimes I?ll go on family walks or sometimes I?ll go on my own. I’ll go for a walk by the sea, in the countryside, or to the shops instead of driving.
Walking is brilliant for mental health in general, and can be an effective way of distracting your thoughts. When I start to feel anxious or stressed with things, sometimes the last thing I want to do is go for a walk. Stress and anxiety can consume your energy and make you feel drained, lethargic and zap your motivation. But I know that if I overcome this and ‘just do it’ then I automatically feel so much better.
At the moment I have a goal of trying to hit 10,000 steps a day. This is a good way of keeping motivated. I don’t hit my goal every day, and I don’t beat myself up about it, but having something to aim for helps me do more walking and movement than I normally would if I didn’t have a goal.
My recent canal walk
I mentioned in last week’s #FridayFive gratitude post that I recently went on a canal walk with my Dad and my dog Wesley (I left Milo at home and walked him separately – another way to do more steps!). I wanted to spend some quality time with my Dad, and I know how much he loves canals.
We couldn’t have picked a better day – the weather was gorgeous. Sunny, blue skies, and warm; but not too warm. We didn’t walk far, just a mile each way from Whitchurch to Grindley Brook, in Shropshire.
We parked up in the Canal and Country Park car park just outside the centre of Whitchurch, and set off down the Whitchurch Arm. This is a short section of canal that was restored in the late 1980s by the Whitchurch Waterway Trust with the intention of bringing tourism back in to the town.
We crossed the New Mills Lift Bridge over the Llangollen Canal and headed down the towpath.
Wesley is a fairly quick walker but we let him stop and sniff as often as he needed and this meant we walked at a steady pace. We stopped to watch the canal boats go by and nearly everyone waved or said hello as they went by.
We saw some baby ducklings on the canal, and a squirrel watching us along the towpath.
After about 40 minutes of walking, stopping and taking in the sights, sounds, and scenery, we stopped at the Lockside Cafe in Grindley Brook for a rest and a coffee.
The cafe is literally next to the locks, so as we sat outside we saw the boats rising out of the lock before setting off on their way again.
Wesley had a bowl of cold water from my SHO flask – perfect for sunny, warm days like this.
After we finished our drinks, we stayed at the cafe for a little longer to enjoy the views and have a chat, and then set off again back towards Whitchurch.
Not only was this walk good exercise for us both, but it was so good to get out in the sun and fresh air and spend quality time with my Dad and create some happy memories, that I will cherish and look back on with a smile on my face.
In next week’s post I share some of my top tip to help you hit your 10,000 steps.