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In celebration of National Walking Month we spoke to Natasha Stone, Regional Sales Manager at Center Parcs Conferences & Events, about why walking is wonderful for your wellbeing.
Walking as exercise
Walking is one of the easiest and most accessible forms of exercise, since it’s free, doesn’t require any special training or equipment, and can be done almost anywhere.
Regular walking – even a brisk 10-minute walk once a day – can help you burn calories and become healthier and more active. It builds stamina and improves your heart health, and can reduce the risk of some health conditions including certain cancers, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Walking for your mental wellbeing
But as well as improving your physical health, it also works wonders for your mental wellbeing. It increases blood flow to the brain, which helps you to feel more energised, and releases endorphins, improving your mood and lowering stress levels.
It’s also much better for the environment. Many of us automatically reach for our car keys every time we need to go anywhere, but if we swapped short car journeys for walks instead, we’d reduce congestion, air pollution, and make the roads safer for everyone. You’ll also save money, get active and feel better in the process!
I find that the secret ingredient to making the most of my ‘wellbeing walks’ is bringing another person along to chat to. Studies have shown that being side by side with another person creates a more relaxed atmosphere than when you’re facing them head on. It might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s often easier to connect with people, and have open and honest conversations, when you aren’t making direct eye contact.
The same applies at work, too. Walking meetings can help us to be more productive, boost energy levels and improve working relationships. It’s a good way to discuss difficult or sensitive topics (such as resolving conflict), and some research has shown that it can also increase collaboration and creativity, making it ideal for problem-solving or making decisions. If you have an important topic to discuss or you want to ‘step up your game’ at work, don’t underestimate the power of the walking meeting!
Walking on site visits
This is part of the reason why I love taking clients out on site visits at Center Parcs. The combination of the fresh forest air, the beautiful views and having a friendly companion to chat to means it’s always an enjoyable day out for both of us. And of course, I’ll take any opportunity to get my step count up. An average site visit at Woburn Forest is around 7,000 steps, though my highest step count to date was during our Woburn Forest launch event: a sole destroying 33,000 steps!
Free time to walk
I always encourage our clients to try and leave a little ‘free time’ within their event agenda if possible. This allows delegates to get out for a stroll in the forest - either on their lunch break or at the end of the day – and enjoy the feeling of being in nature, and all the mental and physical wellbeing benefits of walking outdoors. If you’re holding an event in an environment like Center Parcs, you might as well make the most of it!