Walking. It’s something most of us do so naturally, without even thinking about it. Sitting. That’s also something we do very often without thinking too. As humans designed to start to walk about (and then sprint with a spear for prey, obvs), it’s incredible and sort of worrying how much our modern lifestyles have led us firmly to be mainly on our rear end. My job, and that of most of my friends and family is based in an office around a desk. I get up to wee, and I get up for coffee but it is rare in a normal working day I get up for anything else at all. Unless there is a fire alarm – I always get up for a fire.

When I get home, I might wander around the house for a bit whilst cooking dinner, but then it’s time to settle in for a full 2-3 hours of sofa time. This may include fidgeting with the cushions or grabbing a blanket, but it definitely doesn’t involve using my feet. I never really thought about the amount I walked before – I use my legs and I go to the gym 4 times a week so I must be fit healthy…right?

Well if this sounds like you, unfortunately we are both wrong.

My start walking flat shoe outfit.
My start walking flat shoe outfit.

I recently purchased a pedometer. Mine’s from Weight Watchers and it calculates jazzy things like activity points, but you can et a pedometer anywhere, or if you are really into gadgets, things like the Fitbit or Jawbone UP will work too. I slipped on my pedometer that day, and when I went to bed I was surprised to see that although I’d walked around a supermarket and gone up and down the stairs a few times I was yet to earn any “activity points”.

I complained to Mr S that it must be broken. He suggested I looked at the instructions…

Imagine my horror when I realised that my pedometer was set up to only calculate activity points earned when I had completed the required amount of steps to be healthy. And that in one normal day I hadn’t even reached that?

Oooops.

For my height and weight I need to start to walk 6770 steps just to be healthy. It’s about 3 miles. And, with my current routine I was struggling to hit even healthy. It was an eye-opener, and suddenly my arse felt very heavy indeed. Every 2400 steps after that would earn me another point. With my pedometer clipped in and a competitive look on my face I decided to drastically overhaul my sedentary lifestyle to start to walk more. And this is what I did…

I've been doing the Lambeth walk on the way to work...oi!
I’ve been doing the Lambeth walk on the way to work…oi!

I changed my commute

Actually this was sort of done by accident – I moved house which meant I was a lot closer to a station, which may seem a little backwards but hear me out. With my old commute, the walk was so far that more often than not I hopped in my car to that station. I probably only did about 30 steps on the way to work before. Now, the station is around 8 minutes away and just walking there and back does wonders for getting the blood pumping around my legs.

On a mission to increase my steps and get off the hot sweaty trains that were becoming the bane of my life, I started investing walking part of my hour long commute. I got off at Queensway station in West London and walked through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’ Park to get to work. It took about an hour but it was beautiful, less sweaty and fantastic exercise.

Equally, my tube travel after I go to the gym takes me about 50 minutes and is horrific. Busy, bustling and hot. I checked on the off chance what the walk would be from Shoreditch to Westminster, and at an hour and a quarter I decided to give it a go. I walked across both London and Lambeth Bridges and had already done 10,000 steps before landing at my desk. Winner!

I changed my lunch breaks

I’m a kind of eat lunch at my desk whilst doing work/reading blogs/checking Facebook kind of gal. The kind of person every productivity book ever warns against. So recently, in celebration of the sun and my new found enthusiasm for clocking up the steps I’ve been nipping out for a walk as part of my start to walk challenge. I work right by the river and basically its gorgeous. No excuse not to get out for some Vitamin and to stretch my legs. In just 30 minutes I can cover off 2 miles which is around 4,500 steps for me.

Gorgeous lunchtime walking views.
Gorgeous lunchtime walking views.

Using your lunch break for exercise, even something as gentle as walking clears my head, gives me a rest from my screen and more importantly keeps my pedometer clicking over nicely.

I changed how I spent my weekends

 My weekends usually involve lots of naps, movie marathons and more naps. I’m a sleepy creature at heart and with a busy schedule during the week, I use weekends as my time to clock off. I don’t tend to go to the gym at weekends either, using these as rest days (and because I’m still not quite over the horror that is weekend marathon training), so basically I spend those 48 hours squarely on my backside.

Sound like you too? Well there are some excellent ways to get a bit of activity in your life without sweating it out and feeling like you aren’t getting some good relaxation in. I’ve started to plan lovely activities which see me up and about, but that don’t get me too tired. Need to go to the shops? I walk, I don’t drive it. A nice gentle stroll around the local park or woods? Yep, that’ll see you nicely warmed up for an afternoon of dozing on the sofa.

Just recently, in an effort to explore my new neighbourhood I got up for a lovely brunch at a local café (which we walked to), and then we walked into our local town for a farmers market. Whereas ordinarily we may have driven there, the weather is nice so we decided to walk. We were probably walking for only two hours or so, but it meant we got our legs moving and saw way more of our local surroundings than we would have done sat in a car.

I changed how I felt about walking

All of these changes to my daily routine have made me realise how easy it is to make walking a part of my life – not just an afterthought. I’m much more likely now to walk between external meetings than jump on a tube, and I always check my Google Maps to see if a walk somewhere is possible. It usually is, and its usually quicker. Walking is free, easy and so good for you – the damage we do to our bodies (and those sleepy glutes) is untold when we are just sitting down.

More than physical health though, walking has given me more emotional wellbeing than I thought possible. My head is clearer, and I’ve had some of my best ideas whilst walking across a beautiful bridge or a through a sunny park. We have two feet, and we have legs capable really of walking for miles. We may not need to use spears to get a buffalo these days, but the sentiment is all the same!

How do you fit walking into your everyday life?

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