According to Living Streets: “Walking is good for our minds, our bodies and our neighbourhoods and has been a lifeline during the past year, helping people stay active and connected.” And as May is National Walking Month, they want people to pledge to #WalkThisMay! 

You can sign up to their pledge (at www.livingstreets.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/national-walking-month) and tell them how many short journeys you plan to walk each week. In return, they’ll show you how many miles you’ll walk, how many calories you’ll burn and how much Co2 you’ll save across the month compared to if you were driving those trips (with a prize draw incentive). If you apply towards the end of May the calculation will be based on what you would have walked during the whole month – in the hope that you continue walking for the rest of the summer!

A twitten in St Leonards

Research by Living Streets revealed that the vast majority of people enjoyed the health benefits offered by a daily walk, with 76% naming physical health benefits and 56% the mental health benefits. Walking was also seen as a good way to meet friends and family in a safe and legal way (36%) and to discover new places (29%), whilst 21% enjoyed the financial savings from walking instead of driving. Meeting up with friends and family was particularly important to younger people, with 56% of 18-24 year-olds using a walk to keep in touch during lockdown.

And in a recent episode of BBC TV’s The Truth About… ex-footballer turned TV presenter Alex Scott investigated a study at the University of South Wales about maximising mental health benefits from exercise, stimulating parts of the brain that influence mood. Using herself as a guinea pig she was tested with and without brain stimulus. The result was that exercising physically and mentally gave a 63% increase in blood flow over simple physical exercise. The good news is that just walking and listening to an audio book will do something similar for the average person.

Local resident Martin Dickie says: “We walked quite a lot during lockdown, so our pledge is to help us keep that momentum going. We’ll be revisiting our favourite walks around Hastings, such as East Hill to Fairlight Cove and Alexandra Park to Old Roar Gill. It’s a brilliant idea and a great way to stay fit!”

Local author Jane Metcalfe also spent many hours walking along the footpaths and surrounding countryside in Upper St Leonards during the first lockdown: “All through that time I watched nature press up from the earth, stretch the fingers of bare branches, plump out shrunken hedgerows and every day I saw walls and fences sprout little flowers from infinitesimal cracks.”

And she kept a diary during that time. One entry: “There is a sense of harmony in the park. It is hard to be aggressive surrounded by the all-inclusive, sheltering arms of Nature.” 


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