Chloe Allen

Chloe Allen

Our Digital Marketing Executive Chloe is in charge of our e-newsletter. There's no one better placed to inform and delight you every month, so keep your eyes peeled for her newsletter hitting an email inbox near you soon.

Read time of 8 minutes.

Studies show that making time for a daily 20-minute walk is great for our physical and mental health. 

While we love to drive, walking every day can reduce stress, improve sleep and help our overall fitness and mobility – though in today’s fast-paced world, it can be a struggle to carve out the time.

According to charity Living Streets (the creator of National Walking Month), going for a walk is the nation’s favourite way to spend a bank holiday. However, this is far from the case during the rest of the year, with 72% of respondents struggling to walk as little as 20 minutes a day.

To help you build better habits for a healthier lifestyle, we’ve put together and tested our most helpful tips on maintaining a regular walking routine this May. If they pay off, you can keep whacking out your walking boots all year round!

Are the benefits worth the bother? 

Regular walking is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to improve your health and stay connected to your community, to feel less isolated, and to prevent the onset of various health conditions that may set in later in life. For instance, a 20-minute walk once a day could reduce your risk of certain cancers, depression, heart disease and type 2 diabetes!

But if the health benefits aren’t enough, swapping a drive for a short walk where possible also helps reduce air pollution, congestion and danger on the road. Depending on how you adjust your routine, walking more can also help save you money by saving on fuel costs.

That looks to us like plenty of rewards for minimum effort. So how can you incorporate more walks into a busy lifestyle?

Man happy at end of walk

Do it with a friend!

Our first tip is probably the easiest – don’t walk alone.

It’s the same principle as going to the gym with someone instead of alone. We’re more likely to follow through if our time is accountable to a friend or partner.

Fitting a quick walk in to your lunch break with a friend or colleague is an excellent way to break up your working day and let off steam that’s probably better off not being released in the office. Longer walks after work, or at the weekend, can also double as a chance to catch up with someone you care about more regularly.

It’s three birds with one stone; building a routine, getting some exercise and socialising all at the same time! As an aside, it doubles up as a great strategy for counteracting loneliness; so, if you know someone who is feeling isolated, getting them out for a walk with you is one of the easiest, quickest ways you can help.

Go for an after-dinner stroll

Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the longer days.

Summer evenings are lighter, warmer and longer. Instead of sagging on the sofa after your evening meal, let your plates soak while you head out for a brisk stroll around the neighbourhood.

Walking after a meal – especially a heavier meal like dinner – reportedly boosts absorption of nutrients from food and movement of the body aids digestion. Even a short walk after dinner can make a positive difference to your blood sugar, blood pressure and overall gut health.

Whether you head out with your family, or make it time to spend alone, an after-dinner stroll is a quick and easy way to fit a little walking into your day.

Replace short drives with a walk!

Walking to work is not necessarily a practical adjustment – but there are other car journeys you may be able to cut down on.

If your local shops are within a reasonable distance (and you’re not planning to lug back a heavy weekly shop), consider heading there on foot instead of behind the wheel. It might take a little longer, but it’s a good and low effort opportunity for exercise.

Likewise, if you have the flexibility and time to do so, walking the kids to school is another way to inject some walking into your daily routine – and it will encourage them to build healthy habits from a young age.

Use the stairs if you can

Simple, but effective.

When you get the choice between the lift and the stairs , take the stairs - but only if you can. If it's a choice you can make every day, you’ll soon reap the benefits within minimal changes to your daily routine. 

Don't be put off by the weather!

Bad weather is, according to studies by Living Street, one of the biggest obstacles to building a solid walking routine.

No one wants to head outside when the light is low and the sky is so overcast it’s almost black. However, even a rainy walk can be refreshing if you prepare for it.

Wearing waterproofs, planning your route and even taking a hot bath afterwards are all things you can do to make a horrible weather walk more enjoyable.

You can even (if you’re feeling brave), take on a weather walk! This kind of walking actively encourages you to engage with the weather conditions on your walks by focusing on sensory input.

Examples include spontaneous acts like holding out your hands to catch the rain – how does it feel? Look at the reflections in nearby puddles and then – this is the fun part – jump into them and enjoy the disruptive ripples you create.

Just remember it’s only 20 minutes in the wet. Temporary discomfort is just that, but your body and your mind will thank you for sticking to routine.

Toddler in wellies and rain coat

New routes and pavement prowls

It’s easy to get tired of the same walks.

You can hunt out new ground to cover, or if time is scarce, approach your usual walk with more mindfulness. A pavement prowl is the ideal walk for those of us who live in built up areas, but are getting sick of our usual routes.

Consider the details you would normally gloss over without seeing, such as plants growing in unexpected places, like behind a bus stop, in the brickwork or between paving stones, and make a note of them.

Use your other senses too; think about what you can hear and what you can smell. By paying more attention to everything going on around you, a tired route can feel new and invigorating.

However, if a new route is a must – do your research and plan a good time to explore. It will probably take longer than you think, especially if you decide to use all your senses to enjoy the stroll.

Use your lunch break

We covered this one briefly in our first tip, but a walk on your lunch break is a really good idea.

Whether you work at home or in the office, if you’re stuck at a desk all day the chances are this is really contributing towards a mostly sedentary lifestyle (and increased risk of developing health problems as a result).

By taking a walk on your lunchbreak, you can ensure that you are actually getting time away from your desk and cutting down the length of time you spend seated, especially if you commit to doing it every day.

Put in some earphones, change your shoes and head out for a brisk walk – the time away from your desk will clear your head and strengthen your back in the short term, and help prevent long-term health conditions in the long-term.

Not very active? 

Understandably, if you’re not very active the prospect of daily exercise might feel nearly impossible to start.

However, there are things you can do to make the experience easier and more accessible. If you have joint problems that make walking difficult, check your local swimming pool to see what classes they offer. Gentle exercise in water will support your joints while you move and help strengthen your muscles.

If you simply struggle to find the motivation, it’s a good idea to listen to music or a podcast while walking. Both will take your mind off the effort, help you get into a rhythm and walk faster.