Health & Well-being13th October 2013

Fun Family Walks

Using fun family walks to get some exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle

by Simon Deacy OBE

As obesity rates continue to rise as a consequence of our more sedentary lives, we are looking at some relatively easy ways to reverse that trend. Leading a healthy lifestyle, can be the difference between life and death. However, the thought of attending a gym daunts many Deaf or Hard of Hearing people, not because of the activity itself, but because of a lack of deaf awareness.

The options are not simply train in a gym or do nothing. There are a myriad of activities in between and in this article, we are going to look at the benefit and enjoyment of regularly taking a family walk.

Physical activity does not have to be vigorous or done for long periods for it to be beneficial to health. In a recent study of inactive women, even 75 minutes a week, was found to significantly improve fitness levels, when compared to a group who did not exercise.

No matter where we live, there will be places to get out of the house and enjoy the great outdoors. Throughout the United Kingdom there are some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery you will find anywhere in the world. In preparation for a charity event, I have been out walking and I had forgotten just how beautiful our surroundings are.

As a fun activity, walking is low cost but a great family activity, which can also be educational. It is suitable for most people and is an activity that the fittest teenager can enjoy with their grandparents. The children may complain when you first drag them away from their Xbox or Playstation, but in no time, they will be enjoying the exercise, their surroundings and even some of the learning.

Taking a walk regularly, is probably the least stressful and arduous way to shake off those unwanted pounds, improve your fitness and well-being, and reduce the risk of many serious health conditions. If you are unfit and overweight now and you have become too sedentary, walking is the ideal solution. Even on a family walk, you can go at your own pace and cover a distance that suits you. The younger and fitter family members will find plenty to keep themselves engaged, from wildlife, historical landmarks, sights, sounds and adjoining activities, there is plenty there to keep people interested. The same things will take your mind off the walk, so you wont even realise that you are ‘exercising’.

The Facts

Walking is called a ‘weight bearing exercise’. Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased heart and lung fitness;
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke;
  • Improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes;
  • Stronger bones and improved balance;
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance; and
  • Reduced body fat.

If you are over-weight now, the weight loss won’t happen overnight. But, it will happen, if you start to walk regularly.

Walk for Pleasure

If you haven’t exercised in a while, or you are conscious of your weight, the important thing is that you make your walk a pleasure. Find walks in the early days that you enjoy. This might be a River Bank, Coastal Path, historic route, or visiting a particular attraction. My advice is to make an event out it, packing a picnic, print off maps, take a compass, pack a book on birds, foliage or the history of the area. Walking along the Taff Trail on the weekend I came across a tiny bit of rail track on the side of the river with a plaque, telling me that a tram line used to run along there many moons ago.

If you go as a family and pack a picnic, the children will love it and if the children are young, there are plenty of things to point out in support of their learning and education. Some children might like to collect leaves, make a scrap book or take photographs of the wildlife you come across. Get off the roads and pavements onto river banks, canals, trails and cross country footpaths and there are lots of things to keep the children occupied. You never know, they might even start asking to go out for a walk in the future.

If you are going to do this for fitness and well-being, my advice is to use a pedometer. There are some decent ones as apps for mobile phones, or you can get one for a couple of pounds on the High Street. A pedometer measures steps, distance, speed and calories burned, and allows you to track your improvement. Enjoy your walking, I am!

Article by Simon Deacy OBE

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Health & Well-being

13th October 2013