The UK is a great place to go walking and offers something for everybody with its varied landscapes and terrain and all in a relatively small space. Without the need to travel too far, you’ve probably got either rolling green hills, low flat fens, rugged mountains, chalk and lime cliffs, river valleys, peaceful riversides, marshland teeming with wildlife, secluded woodland and a spectacular coastline fairly close to where you live.
Rambling offers people of all ages and with varying degrees of physical fitness levels to experience the outdoors at a pace to suit them. There are rambling clubs and associations situated in all corners of the UK and you won’t have to look far to find one near you. Some consist of just a handful of members whilst others are greater in number and who meet regularly for walks, talks and socialising.
We’ve Become a Lazy Nation
We’re all aware of the issues surrounding the nation’s dangerously high levels of obesity and how the government and medical experts are constantly referring to the ticking time bomb caused as a result of being overweight. It’s quite staggering that obesity levels have risen by more than 50% over the past ten years and the trend is still on the increase. It’s also the second biggest cause of death after cancer, according to the World Health Organisation.
Medical experts recommend at least half an hour of moderate exercise 5 times a week although only 20% of the UK population get enough exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and satisfactory fitness levels.
The Health benefits of walking
Unlike many other forms of exercise, walking as a regular physical activity has its own unique benefits. It doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t require any specialist equipment or training. Anybody in reasonable health can do it. You can do it almost anywhere and it is low impact meaning fewer injuries or accidents than with other sports and physical activities. It can be combined easily with other activities such as walking to work or school, going to the shops or simply exercising the dog if you have one and you don’t need to concentrate on the walking itself. You can combine that with meeting your friends and enjoying their company or simply to relax, de-stress and just enjoy your surroundings.
Regular brisk walking will improve your heart rate and circulation and lower your blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. It can actually reduce the risk of you having a heart attack by half. It promotes weight loss and increased flexibility in your muscles and joints. It builds strength in your muscles and bones and boosts your immune system. It helps you breathe more efficiently and can assist you with getting a good night’s sleep.
Other benefits include reducing the risk from strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, bowel cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Regular walking reduces anxiety and stress and people who suffer/have suffered with depression or who are lonely have often been advised to join a rambler’s club as it’s been proven that just by getting out in the fresh air with a group of people lifts a person’s mood and bonds them with the group.
What Does a Rambling Club Consist of?
A common misconception is that rambling clubs are only for the very fit and can cover many miles, often over rough terrain whilst carrying a heavy backpack. This, however, is a myth. The truth is that anybody who can walk can join a rambling club.
Most clubs arrange walks of different grades. Who joins which walk depends on entirely on the individual’s level of fitness and their own personal preferences. Quite often you’ll find that a rambling club will allow people to walk in a group as a visitor before deciding whether or not rambling is for them. Then there are those clubs who arrange ‘beginners’ walks’ which are shorter and geared towards those who are new to the activity.
If you enjoy walking in the outdoors, there’s obviously no compulsion to join a rambling club. Many people ramble alone or with just close friends or family but joining a club is an ideal opportunity to take part in a worthwhile physical activity whilst meeting new, like-minded people at the same time. To find out more about rambling in your area, the Ramblers Association website is a good place to start www.ramblers.org.uk