At our August event, Jane Hafren not only shared with us her passion for walking but also the many benefits that walking has, both physically and mentally.

Jane truly believes that walking is one of the most life giving things you can do as it makes you happy and certainly can bring you joy.  Jane reminded us that one of the biggest celebrations we have as children is when we start learning to walk, yet as we get older we seem to forget about this. However we were also reminded how this has changed over time.  In the 60’s almost every child walked to school as there was often only one car (if any!) in the household and the father took that to work every day, yet now,  most households have at least 2 cars, so less children are walking to school.  In fact, only 44% of primary age school children walk to school SOME of the time.

Even more scary as that we are still walking as much as adults, and recent research has found 25% of the population only walk in supermarkets or shopping malls and another scary fact is that 25% of the UK population only walk 20 minutes a week.

Our changing lifestyles and most of the things we aspire to now mean we are walking less, for example, using computers, tablets, smart phones, eating, having a nice car, watching tv, etc.   We are increasingly immersed in a virtual world which is certainly not helping our physical health but it is also bad for our mental health as when we don’t walk it negatively affects our mental health as well.  In fact there are more cases of poor mental health now and as a population we walk less – by not walking we are taking away our personal self-help for our minds.

It has also been proven that walking more will also help to reduce many physical ailments such as breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and many more by up to 50%.

From a business perspective, walking also helps to increase your creativity as when we are walking and swinging our arms it helps connect the right and left side of our brain which helps bring creativity and calmness.

So how do you start walking?

We all know how to walk, but it’s often the lack of motivation that stops us from doing it.  So to start walking it is best to give yourself a challenge as this will give you the motivation, for example, start walking for charity or give yourself a challenge of walking 40 minutes a day for 40 days in a row, in fact you can do this with Jane’s ‘Walk of life Challenge’.

It is easy to include walking into your everyday routine for example:

  • Get off the bus or train a stop earlier and walk that little bit further to your destination
  • If you drive to work park about 1 mile away from the office and walk the rest of the way
  • Start having walking meetings in work when you don;t need a computer
  • Set up a lunchtime walking group
  • Involve your family – go for a different walk every week and find out more about your local environment

As a seasoned walker Jane shared with us the following good tips to get the best from walking:

  • Take a map and plan your route
  • Let other people know where you are going
  • Wear comfortable flat shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy
  • Don’t wear jeans – they are not comfortable for walking and even more so when they are wet
  • Take a rain coat (especially in the UK!)

So after the brief introduction to the benefits of walking Jane took us all on a 45 minute walk around the hotel and it was amazing what we found – not roads and cars as you would expect but a lovely wooded area with large open spaces and even some ducks!  We walked as a group but found that we talked to different people along the way and people we may not have usually talked to!  We even got a little wet but we all came back feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world!

Jane is currently spending her spare time walking around the Wales Coastal path in memory of her sister who recently passed away and to raise money for Odyssey which is a charity that was set up to support people with terminal cancer.  You can follow Jane’s journey on facebook at Jane Hafren and twitter @janehafren, and you can even sponsor her as well – I am sure that the more sponsors Jane gets the more motivation she will have to finish her challenge!

If you want to find out more about Jane and the Walk of Life then visit the Walk of Life website, or if you want to join in  one of the many walking events take a look at the links below:

Cardiff NetWalks - This is for people in business and professionals wanting to make new business contacts.  It’s outdoor networking!

Fresh Air Fridays - Fresh Air Friday is all about YOU. Jane takes you for a walk for 2 1/2 hours. You have a break and there are some other things you won’t get on other walks – very relaxing and YOU centred.  This is SO much more than a walk!