The Benefits of Walking as Part of a Group

By Nicky Jacquiery

Spring is almost here with its longer days and better weather. For those of you who’ve been hibernating over the winter and not really ventured outside, this may be the incentive you need to put on your boots and go walking. If, however, this is not enough and motivating yourself to leave the house is a struggle, why not try a walking group? I know how easy it is to find an excuse not to go walking when you only have yourself to think about, which is why a walking group may be the kick-start you need.

g0r33puw (1).jpgI realise that many people prefer to walk by themselves and I’m a strong advocate of solo walking, taking myself off into the hills as often as I can. However, some people I know have no desire to walk alone, but unfortunately, this means they don’t go out walking as much as they’d like. Walking groups, such as regular local walking meets or an organised walking holiday, are options worth considering.  

I belong to a local walking group and have also been on organised walking holidays. One of the biggest advantages for me is that someone else arranges everything, which means that I don’t have to think! Well, not quite; I do have a certain amount of preparation to do, but the point is that the organisation is done for me. I’m told when and where to meet and then all I have to do is make sure the walk is on the calendar, and I just turn up. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this is a huge incentive to go out walking, especially as my life seems to be getting increasingly busier.

Another big advantage of walking as part of a group is
that there will often be a leader; someone who has taken
on the responsibility of organising the walk, has planned
the route and may even do the navigating.

In other words, the leader will do all the things that it would be your responsibility to do if you were venturing out alone. So, if you don’t feel comfortable with route planning or using a map and compass, then walking in an organised group is an ideal opportunity to gain experience and increase your confidence.

Joining a regular walking group or going on an organised walking holiday is also an ideal way to meet new people. It can be daunting approaching people you don’t know, but as everyone in the group is there to go walking, you know that you’ll have something in common with them all. You can talk about walking, if nothing else! Besides, walking and socialising with others improves our mental health and emotional wellbeing, as well as our physical health.

Untitled-1 (19).jpgWe’re all creatures of habit and thrive on having a routine. Going out walking in a group as part of a regular routine can help you to feel less stressed, plus sleeping and eating better are just some of the other benefits that might tempt you to give it a try!

Even if you’re a keen walker and have walked a lot in a certain area, I guarantee that there will still be places that you haven’t been. I frequently go walking in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, the two closest National Parks to where I live, but the different routes that people in my walking group come up with regularly surprise me. More often than not, these routes take me to new and interesting places that I wouldn’t necessarily think of going to if I was planning a walk by myself.

Walking as part of a group can also be an opportunity to push yourself. If you want to try a more demanding walk or perhaps go out for a longer period of time, then a walking group provides a safe scenario in which to do it, especially if there is a support vehicle or a planned escape route. Plus, if something untoward should happen, there are others on hand to help.

If you’re thinking of trying out a walking group or going on an organised walking holiday, I urge you to give them a go. What have you got to lose? Nothing, but you’ve got a lot to gain! If you decide that walking as part of a group is not for you, then you don’t have to go again. However, I think it’s much more likely to be the case that you’ll want to keep going for all the benefits I’ve outlined above. Whether you’re an experienced solo traveller or haven’t really tried walking, you’ll soon discover there are many benefits to be gained from walking as part of a group.

Originally published 14/02/18

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