9 Best Benefits Of Walking Outdoors: UON Students

The second lockdown doesn’t quite have the same feel to it and that’s probably down to numerous factors.

The one which springs out to mind first, is the weather.

We were quite fortunate to have a lot of sunny, hot days during the Summer lockdown.

It was, in my opinion and own experience, much easier to motivate ones self to get outside and be active.

But it’s vitally important for you to get outdoors at LEAST once a day no matter what the weather (Treacherous thunderstorms aside).

Whilst you may not have access to equipment and can choose from many of the home workouts we have available on the university website, it would be beneficial for you to get some fresh air.

There is no simpler and accessible method of exercise than getting outside and walking.

I have constructed what I believe are the most beneficial effects of walking for you to consider and be aware of the next time you decide to ‘stay indoors today’.

1. Boost your mood and clear your mind

The strain of being indoors for extended periods can cause ‘cabin fever’.

Some of the symptoms of cabin fever include stress, restlessness, impatience, being easily agitated or highly irritable, lethargy, decreased motivation, persistent sadness, low moods, having a sense of hopelessness, mistrust of people, poor concentration, poor sleep hygiene, food cravings and even weight changes.

https://www.gov.sg/article/cabin-fever-101-are-you-feeling-it

You may have experienced 1 or 2 of these symptoms yourself, which is perfectly normal and you are not alone.

Getting outdoors and going for at least a 30 minute walk can clear your mind and allow you to think more clearly about the situation.

The therapeutic effects of simply going for a stroll around the block should not be underestimated.

2. Improve sleep

Something I initially struggled with initially in lockdown 1 as well as many others did, was being wide awake in the evening and completely ruining any type of sleeping pattern.

Life as a student isn’t always about integrating good sleeping patterns, which I am aware of. But better sleep equals more productivity, energy, better mood and sense of wellbeing.

When you go to bed, your body and mind will be satisfied that you have exercised sufficiently enough to rest and recover.

The fresh air also has beneficial effects on making you feel more relaxed and ready to drop off come bedtime.

3. Lower bodyfat

Fairly obvious but may be misunderstood. Walking for 30 minutes each day will increase your metabolism and will make you feel less guilty about having that pizza in the evening.

4. Walking can be fun and interesting

There’s lots to see and observe on campus, with stunning views all around us. If you’re at home maybe there’s a public footpath you have noticed but never discovered.

Even local roadside paths can be interesting, if you take a second and actually look around. You’ll be amazed how much you have missed on the walks you probably undertake most days.

5. Promotes independence

A lot of new students might be away from home for the first time and it can be quite overwhelming and intimidating.

Going for a walk on your own can promote that feeling of independence which will be so important to you during your progression through university.

If you are walking alone then always make sure a friend or family member knows where you are going, how long for and always have your phone available for contact. Try to avoid walking when it is dark, particularly when not in public areas.

6. A sense of calmness

Ever heard the expression in a movie ‘take a walk’ when someone has just experienced an angry outburst?

Well, they might be onto something. Next time you feel frustrated, angry or annoyed take 30 minutes out of your day to go for a walk.

I would be almost certain that you’ll be in a much clearer headspace to make a better decision than you would have done 30 minutes prior.

7. Builds muscle strength

There’s no doubt that walking improves strength as well as build muscle in your calves, hamstrings, gluteus and quadriceps. Strong legs = strong mind.

With the gym unfortunately closed, you can at least maintain the strength & muscle you have built and be prepared when you go back into training properly.

8. Boosts creativity

Got a mental block from studying too much? Trying to think of a creative spark to get started on your dissertation?

Then, put on your big coat and woolly hat and get round the block for a wander.

Headphones are optional but if it’s specifically creativity you are searching for, then you need to give your mind some room to breathe and think.

9. Helps to fight anxiety and depression

It’s a very serious topic and considering how challenging 2020 has been, it’s fair to say many people have suffered.

But staying indoors will likely increase the feelings further, whereas taking a walk will hopefully give you some more clarity and take your mind away from negative thoughts.

Sometimes you may want to walk with a friend, sometimes you may prefer to just walk on your own. Each version has different benefits, but they are all benefits nonetheless.

If you are needing to self isolate or not able to get out and walk then just making sure you get enough natural light in through the window, opening a window (Yes it’s cold but you’ve got a duvet) or just sitting outside for a while, will assist you with the benefits that have been discussed within this article.

Keep taking things one day at a time, be kind to yourself and others and hopefully we will be able to reopen again at the beginning of December and see you there.

Published by Thomas Jackson Smith

Personal Trainer. Qualified Strength and Conditioning Coach, Exercise Referral specialist, Football coach and entrepreneur. Interested in health and fitness, exercise prescription, football, nutrition, injury prevention, recovery and mindset improvement. Any views are my own and from my own experience. Looking to build links within the blog community, replying to feedback and offering support so we can learn and grow together!

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