Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

The Combined Benefits of Walking

Ushapa Fortescue, PNFS Member

This article is from Signpost 56, February 2018

Although I’ve always been a keen walker, I have only recently become a member of PNFS. I decided to join after attending a long walk from the programme and going on many walks with my mum, a footpath inspector, often accompanied by David Hurrell, who provides local knowledge and map reading. I have walked for many years in the Highlands of Scotland and find that the peaks and moors of South Yorkshire give me the same enjoyment and beauty. I am a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and a trainer for Oxford University Press, for whom I deliver training sessions all over the world. I regularly visit a Meditation resort in India where I have studied and experienced many forms of meditation and I am a qualified and experienced facilitator of meditation and mindfulness.

Nowadays everyone seems to be living a busier, more stressful life, and my generation in particular seems to be looking for new ideas to help them relax and be more present. I often extol the virtues of walking as a way of doing just that. A long walk in the country, off road and on the old paths can be a form of meditation, even if the walker is unaware of the process. Meditation is simply the state of being ‘ín the moment’, totally aware of one’s physicality, the environment and one’s reactions and emotions. Time when you give your mind a break from past, current and future worries, often allowing healing and recuperation. A good long walk gives a sense of wellbeing and a chance to experience the wonder of nature. Seeing birds flying or hearing their calls, smelling the bluebells even before their colour hits you in a woodland dell, the sounds of a brook, the intense green colour of moss on a wet stone are all examples of nature’s delights.

The joys and benefits of walking may have sometimes been disregarded as being old fashioned or nothing new. However along with the already stated benefits, it is also free, accessible at all times and all seasons and doesn’t need an expert in charge (although a good map reader and a compass help). Perhaps we should try to share our movement with my generation, who need a break from the speed and pressures of their world?

We could promote the simple message that walking with a friend enables a special time for sharing and getting to know each other, that walking in a group is sociable and fun, that walking alone in the countryside gives all the benefits of natural exercise, fresh air, a chance to clear one’s mind and face tomorrow’s challenges. Who needs a gym subscription?

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Page title:The Combined Benefits of Walking
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