1. Get in some hills
Hills are a great way to build up your strength and stamina but you don't need to go trekking up a mountain to get the benefit. You'll get plenty of elevation in city parks and countryside walks – just make sure you plan a route that incorporates these hills, rather than giving them a wide berth!
2. Use technology
Technology can serve various purposes on a walk. If you're going solo, podcasts and music offer some entertainment. It's also handy to have your phone in case you need to contact anyone en route. You can also use apps like Strava to map how far your walk has taken you – this can be great for motivation and for creating a sense of accomplishment at the end.
However, don't rely on technology for directions – phones can lose their signal in some areas. So, download or print your route before you leave or, alternatively, there are loads of walking books available. You just might find one offering walks in your area.
3. Get comfy clothing
Comfy clothing is essential for a walk of any length. Here are a few points to remember:
- Layers – setting out for a walk with plenty of layers means you'll be able to take some off when your body heats up or, equally, add some more if the weather gets chilly.
- Wear in your shoes – wear any new walking shoes or trainers around the house before setting off for any big walks. This way you'll get a feel for how comfy they are going to be and will be less likely to get blisters when you do head out.
- Walking socks – socks can also be a cause of blisters on a long walk. Invest in some walking socks and, again, wear them for short walks before heading out on any longer routes to make sure you're comfy.
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What should I pack in my rucksack for a day walk?
Sun hat/ woolly hat
First aid kit
4. Don’t forget to stretch!
Just like any other form of exercise, it's a good idea to warm up and cool down before and after walking. This can help to reduce muscle pain, as well as improving flexibility in the muscles. In particular, focus on stretches that work the leg muscles, such as lunges and dynamic stretching.
5. Fuel your body
Make sure your body is prepared for the walk by fuelling up on foods that release their energy slowly, such as porridge and bananas. This should sustain you for a longer period. When it comes to snacking en route, try nuts and seeds – they won't get mashed or broken in your backpack like some snacks, plus they can be a good source of nutrients like magnesium that support energy levels.
If you need an energy lift whilst out on your walk, Balance Mineral Drink can be helpful as it contains magnesium, alongside zinc, calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
6. Check out new routes
Keep walks interesting by checking out new routes. Walking books are a great source of guidance, or talk to friends and family to see what areas they like to explore. You may also find a walking group in your area that can give you a bit more support.
7. Increase the pace
When walking, keep your pace up so that your breathing and heart rate increase. This has numerous benefits for our health, including improved cardiovascular health. When done regularly, it's also an efficient way to manage weight.
8. Keep it social
Do you get bored of walking the same routes all the time? Well, making the activity social can help to liven things up a bit. Why not call a friend as you walk or gather a group to socialise together? Walking clubs can also be a great way to explore new places and meet new people. Check out Ramblers UK for more advice here!
9. Prepare for all weathers!
When it comes to walking in the UK, it pays to prepare for all eventualities regarding the weather! Even if the day starts bright and the weather forecast looks good, stick a light waterproof in your backpack. You don't want to be caught out by a freak shower! Again, layers are also essential to deal with the changing temperatures throughout the day.
10. Take a first aid kit
Another essential piece of kit for any walk is a first aid bag. You can get small travel-sized ones that are great for walkers – just make sure it's got all the key bits of equipment, including plasters and wipes.
It can be handy to pop some insect repellent into your first aid kit for those summer walks, especially if you are walking near water where insects like to gather!
11. Tell others of your plans and progress
Finally, stay safe by letting others know where you're heading and send them snaps to update them on your progress as you go.
Summary - How can I maximize my walking?
To get the most benefit out of walking, here are my top tips! Build up strength and stamina by getting some hills into your session. Use technology for entertainment and to track the activity. Comfy clothing is a must. Also, warm-up and cool down to reduce aches and pains. Fuel up on magnesium-rich foods to support your energy levels. Next, give yourself more variety on your walks by checking out new routes. It's also important to increase the pace of your walk to get the heart and breathing rate up. Some other tips include making it social, preparing for all weather, and taking a first aid kit. Finally, stay safe by letting others know your plans and progress on the walk.