May is National Walking Month. We are all too familiar with the walks available to us given this past year, and I’m sure like us you’ve been trying to find new places to wander for a bit of variety.

But walking is good for our minds, bodies and our local communities and has been a lifeline recently, helping people stay active and connected.

Now that the evenings are lighter for longer it’s much more motivating to get outside and get walking. So to keep up the encouragement of a daily walk, let’s focus on the actual benefits of walking and things to keep in mind, even when we’re visiting that country route for the 100th time.

Walk for your health and wellbeing

It goes without saying, but walking does wonders for our wellbeing. Exercise releases feel-good hormones, and studies have shown it can:

  • improve your mood
  • reduce stress
  • manage anxiety
  • help you sleep better
  • increase your energy
  • help you to cope with difficult times
  • improve your confidence and self-esteem
  • reduce the risk of depression
  • keep your muscles and bones healthy
  • increase your cardiovascular fitness.

If you’re looking to get fitter and fancy giving yourself a bit more of a walking challenge, the NHS have some helpful ways to get you started.

Walk for the environment

Ditching a car journey in favour of a long walk earns you major eco points.

Switching to walking journeys that are closer to home helps to protect biodiversity. It creates less noise, less air pollution, and results in fewer emissions that are warming the atmosphere. We can help to protect our green spaces by showing its importance to communities, and to plants and wildlife. Read more about how walking and cycling helps to protect the environment.

Walk to protect the countryside

Noticed more litter while out and about? Since the pandemic began, we’ve all been mostly locked down to our local areas. While many of us have discovered lots of local walks, litter has also become more noticeable. And with large numbers of people visiting East Sussex to enjoy the beauty hot spots here, it often means the bins provided become full. Rather than taking rubbish home with them, too many people leave it behind.

Sadly, people generally believe that clearing up litter is someone else’s job. And while many consider littering anti-social behaviour, almost 48% of people admit to dropping litter!

So whilst out on a walk, why not help your local park, street or beach with some litter picking.

Some walking words of warning…

As the weather improves and lockdown restrictions ease, we are all looking forward to spending more time outdoors over the coming months. Our spectacular East Sussex coastline provides a stunning setting for picnics, walks and photographs but please follow some simple steps to make sure you stay safe during your visit.

Safety always first

It’s important to remind you to stay away from cliff tops and bases. We were recently shocked to see people standing and sitting dangerously close to the edge of cliffs, despite warnings. Please remember that chalk cliffs are extremely unstable and can and do crumble and fall without warning. Do not stand or sit at the edge, even for a quick look or photo. Please enjoy our beautiful coastline safely.

Keep your distance from others

While we’re on the roadmap out of lockdown we still need to bear in mind social distancing, even when meeting people we know from other households for outdoor walks.

Wherever you’re walking, do remember to stay two metres away from anyone not in your immediate household. The government has published staying safe outside your home for guidance on how to enjoy the outdoors safely. Further guidance on access to green spaces is useful when considering visiting our parks and open spaces.

And finally, happy (and safe) walking!