“To walk, or not to walk; why not get the bus?” Indeed, Shakespeare. Indeed. Well, the good thing about walking is it’s healthier than getting the bus.
And you don’t have to sit next to some madman with his earphones in, turned up to 11, all whilst listening to rap music.
As you might expect, 52 Ways to Walk by Annabel Abbs champions walking and its various purposes. Let’s take a look at it then.
52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time
‘Walking is just tied up with absolutely everything’ 👣 🥾 Oh @annabelabbs we are 100% with you there! If you’re a keen walker and reader check out our latest episode of Nature Bantz here 🎧 https://t.co/N1ASpBw88Z pic.twitter.com/wE7A8gmF3i
— Go Jauntly (email@example.com) (@gojauntly) May 2, 2023
There’s a early May 2023 podcast extract from Annabel Abbs. To note, she’s titled Streets on the book cover but is covered as Abbs online. We’re running with that!
And this book was a rather timely read for us. In late January, we moved to the countryside after 20 long years of living in cities (see Flatmates & Neighbours: The Best of Our Rental History).
We did this largely to escape the staggering housing crisis problems the UK faces—if you live up north, at least, it tends to be a bit cheaper living out in the sticks. At least in theory.
One surprising by-product of our move is the constant walking.
We lived in Manchester city centre from 2020-2023, a three-year run that included the pandemic and many lockdowns. But we thought we were being pretty active as we’ve always had a high-intensity cycling routine with an exercise bike.
Yet our walking was pretty rubbish. Since the move, we’ve endeavoured to hit at least 10,000 steps a day.
52 Ways to Walk (as you might expect) supports our new life goal.
We think walking has a bad reputation—boring, plodding, the type of thing only older generations do. That seems to be the common mindset towards it. To keep fit, you should be running 20 miles a day and doing 300 push ups.
But combined with other activities, walking is brilliant. Streets is eager to highlight this across some 53 chapters. You can delve into these as you see fit—some examples:
- Walk in the Cold
- Just One Slow Walk
- Take a Windy Walk
- Walk Alone
- Walk With a Dog
- Walk With a Purpose
- Climb Hills
As we usually walk alone, we’re taking a look at that chapter here:
“In all the hue and cry about our current pandemic of loneliness, it’s easy to overlook the importance of solitude. Recent studies content that living in our digitised, always-on society makes time alone more important than ever. Solitude – particularly when walking in nature – can be both rejuvenating and therapeutic. According to sociologist Jack Fong, time alone encourages us to confront who we are. When we remove ourselves from our usual social context, we gain perspective, we nature the relationship we have with our self. Fond, who takes a monthly solo hiking trip, believes solitude is as restorative and essential as exercise or healthy eating.”
We include this bit as doing anything by yourself in Western society is seen as a bit off. Whether going to the cinema alone or eating alone—no. YOU NEED SOMEONE WITH YOU! Otherwise you’re a Billy no-mates loser!
Complete nonsense, of course, which shows how deeply ingrained insecurities about alone time have become. Streets notes:
“A solo hike is a completely different experience from either a group ramble or a walk with a friend and I urge you to explore it. Walking solo is the ultimate in freedom. We can se off when we like, go where we like, at the time and pace that suits us, for as long – or short – as we like. We can stop when we want, for as long as we want. We can follow an enticing path, valley, trail, alley. Not needing to consult or consider, we are free to do exactly as we please.”
Yes, then, we encourage you to not be put off by heading out by yourself.
And this leads to the reason for all of this—the health benefits. 52 Ways to Walk was thoroughly well researched by Abbs and she covers the many, many health benefits of regular walking. Dr. Eric Berg covers the core ones below.
Alongside the physical benefits, the advantages for your mental health are through the roof. Now, a lot of the activities of your editor here, Mr. Wapojif of this site, keep him shacked up in a room alone like a manic—the writing, work, the blogging, films, video games etc.
He’s come to realise, at 38, the importance of setting time aside to get out.
Public health researcher Professor Devi Sridhar notes in The secret to why exercise is so good for mental health:
“When you’re feeling low, it’s tempting to do a Netflix binge, or spend hours scrolling on social media comparing others’ lives to yours, and feeling increasingly sad. This is especially true for teenagers. The antidote we know clearly from epidemiology and biology is to just get moving: whether it’s joining a team, going for a long walk, or finding a community gym or yoga class. You’ll certainly feel more hopeful afterwards.”
52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time is where it’s at, yo.
Over those 52 chapters you’ll discover a more conscientious way to walk. You’ll find out all about the science behind it and the importance of it in your life. And if you’re reading this and thinking “I rarely walk very much” or you drive your car everywhere, then here’s a chance to at least give it a go.
We don’t own a car. Never have done.
52 Ways to Walk reinforces our goal to keep it that way. Abbs writes in a lively and fun way, keeping you engaged, whilst also making you want to put the ruddy book down and head out into the wilderness.
It’s highly recommended for those looking for a new lease of life.
Try Out StepsApp to Track Stuff
On a final note, for your walking goals we can recommend StepsApp.
If you track everything over days, weeks, and months it makes the experience more fun. And you can see the results. The steps! The calories burned!
It really makes you feel better about your progress being able to look back and see what you’ve achieved. Try the app! It’s free to download and use.
I walk more than most Americans but only average about 7k steps per day. The hard part is making walking part of a daily routine, especially during our long winters when I am constantly cold to begin with so have no desire to step out into the freeze, even if after 15 mins of activity I’ll feel better.
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Part of this book highlights walking in the cold is very, very good for you and a great way to burn calories. Although I appreciate your winters are way more full on than in England!
I have a habit of pacing around my home to top up on my total, whilst listening to a podcast/music or whatnot. Comes in handy.
For my routine, I go for a morning walk before work. Wrack up 5,000 steps with that (about 40 mins) and then the rest accumulates during the day. Not that I’m forcing my routine on you (although I AM!!!), but yeah I think it’s one of things of establishing a routine and you’re away. Innit.
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Thanks for the encouragement. I have difficulty with routines. I want to practice French, read, write, walk, and stretch everyday. All advice tells me to do “goal X” first thing in the morning. Since that is impossible, I tend to f*#^ around and do at least one of these activities each day. I’d like to be consistent but so far, that personality trait seems to be missing from my DNA. I’m going to keep the 5,000 steps in mind though. 🙂
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Yeah, it’s difficult to find the time to fit everything you want to do into a day. Not enough time! I generally find the earlier you get up (and I wake up very early), the more you can do.
Although work is the main blockade to other goals, really, but then those bills do need paying.