At the beginning of the year, I decided that one my January goals would be to try and get outside for a walk for at least an hour every day. So far, I’m pleased to say that bar maybe two or three days I have managed to stick to my goal. I set myself this challenge, not to get fit or lose weight (although of course, that would be great) but to improve my mood and feel happier. Almost a month on from starting my daily walks I thought I’d evaluate whether or not they have made me happier.
There have been days when I’ve really struggled (just as I knew I would) to get out of the house. It all felt like a bit too much effort. Not only did I have to get myself ready to go out but I’d have to sort the dog out (she joins us for most of our walks) and get Jasmine ready too. I must have the only dog in the world that runs away at the sight of her lead (the thrill of me chasing her around the house with it is much more enjoyable than the prospect of an actual walk). Then Jasmine would fight with me as I try to put her hat, coat and mittens on and then continue her tantrum by arching her back making it difficult for me to strap her into the pushchair. By this point I already feel exhausted. I then have to make the 372-point-turn with the pushchair to get out it out of the house (It’s somewhat of a tight squeeze in our entrance porch).
And then? I’m out! Hurrah. Within minutes I’ve forgotten the drama of getting ready for our walk and I’m already enjoying it. I do a few deep breaths, taking in the cold winter air and suddenly everything is OK again. Dog’s happy. Jasmine’s happy. I’m happy. And relax…
Here are just some of the reasons my walks have helped improved my mood:
It’s less chaotic at home: Heidi can be quite a handful (it sometimes feels like I have two children) but since she’s been joining me for my walks and having additional exercise she’s been better behaved when we get back to the house. As for Jasmine, being pushed around in the buggy has always been a surefire way to get her to nap without the fuss. It means she’s less likely to get overtired and irritable later on in the day. It’s made my time back at home more enjoyable and less stressful.
Thinking time: With the girl usually asleep and the dog occupied, I get some peace and quiet for and enjoy some (kind of) ‘me-time’. Sometimes I listen to a podcast or an audio book but mostly I just like to think about things. I come up with ideas for blog posts, plan my week or I simply just contemplate my navel!
I get dressed every day: I know this sounds ridiculous, but last year I spent way too many days in my PJs. I had no intention of leaving the house for anyone or anything. I’m embarrassed to admit that, but it’s true. Now that I know I’m going to be going outside for a walk, I always get dressed in the morning. That in itself has made a world of difference to my general mood and attitude towards each new day.
I sleep better: Now that I’m getting more exercise, I’ve noticed that getting to sleep at night has become significantly easier. Especially since I bought a pedometer and have aimed for 10,000 steps a day. (I was doing nowhere near that before!)
I’ve lost weight and I’m feeling fitter: Even though I am currently the heaviest I’ve ever been, I didn’t want this to be about losing weight. I’m concentrating on a healthier mind before I make a start on tackling my physical health. Out of curiosity, I weighed myself this morning and I have lost 3lbs (so that means I’ve lost roughly 1lb a week since I started walking every day). Obviously it feels good to have lost the weight and I have felt noticeably fitter. Hopefully this bodes well for when I can start running again in the Spring.
It’s bonding time: I feel better connected to Jasmine when we are out for walks. Probably because I’m not getting constantly distracted by my phone, laptop or the TV. Instead I talk and sing to her as we walk around (when she’s not sleeping, obviously). I feel like this is really good quality time together. I love the eye contact and smiles. You can’t get a better mood booster than that!
I’ve made a friend: During one of my walks I took the long route home and bumped into another lady out walking with her baby. We got chatting and soon realised we lived just around the corner from each other. Now we regularly meet up for walks together which has been great for us both. We can get some fresh air and vent about tiredness, teething and poop explosions. If I hadn’t have been out on that walk, we might never have met.
These are just some of the benefits of walking off the top of my head, I’m sure there are many more. In all honestly I can say that, so far, walking for an hour every day is making me happier. Admittedly, I am bored of the cold and the grey skies. I’m desperate to feel some sun on my skin. But the hard part is nearly over, Spring will be here before I know it and then things surely will get easier.
Do you try to get outside for a walk every day?