But exercising locally, close to where we live or work, can have even bigger benefits! Let’s take walking and running as an example. It’s easy to get caught up on the walk to the train station, or by doggedly focussing on the finish line of a run, and not even notice where we are. But if we moved about more mindfully, and took notice of our surroundings, we may well discover things we never knew were there, even on our own doorstep. (Although obviously, we also need to be aware of the hazards around us, especially if we’re running, and wearing headphones.)
Joining a local walking group can also mean that we make new friends that live locally, and have common interests.
Ealing Health Walks
In Ealing, we’re lucky enough to have a programme of local walks organised by Walking for Health. Walking for Health arrange walks every day of the week (except Saturdays) and have been doing so for over 12 years. There’s start and end points all over Ealing and Southall, in the early morning and afternoon, with most lasting for an hour. Some have a half hour option if an hour is too much for you.
The Ealing Health Walk team can’t advocate the benefits of walking enough, saying that it’s a truly accessible form of exercise, with most able bodied adults able to take part. It’s free to join in and all you need is a pair of trainers and weather-appropriate clothing.
They work in conjunction with Ramblers.org.uk, the West London NHS Trust Mental Health Unit and Macmillan Cancer Support. All ages and abilities are welcome and you’re bound to make new friends.
Walking for Health
If you can’t fit your schedule in with the Ealing Health Walks, why not set up your own? Talk to your neighbours, you may be surprised to discover they’re all feeling the same – that they’d love to go on walks around Ealing, but aren’t sure where to begin.
Get a group of you together, set a time, and use an app such as one of these recommended by the British Heart Foundation to plan your route. It can be whatever distance you like, and at whatever pace suits you. You can set yourself goals too - who knows how far you could be walking in a month’s time?
So for an inexpensive, social and local exercise, that you can do at entirely your own pace, pull on those trainers and start walking. Your mind and body will thank you for it.