During the lockdown years of 2020 and 2021 lots of us discovered the benefits of walking.

For many, a daily walk has become a way of life and something we want to enjoy away from home as well as on our doorstep.

In short, walking holidays are an increasingly popular option.

If you’re undecided about whether to take the plunge and book a walking holiday, read on to find out more.

The Benefits of Walking

Walking is free and doesn’t require huge amounts of time. According to the NHS, just a brisk ten-minute walk can bring health benefits. Longer walks are even more beneficial.

Walking burns calories which can help us to lose weight or to maintain a healthy BMI. Walking strengthens the heart and boosts our immune system. It can also help our energy levels by increasing the flow of oxygen and certain hormones through our bodies.

Walking has also been shown to improve our mood and reduce anxiety. According to the Walking for Health website, “It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.”

A walking holiday generates all of the above benefits alongside the opportunity to see new places, meet people and enjoy a holiday ice cream without feeling guilty - it really is one of the most satisfying types of travel!

Types of Walking Holiday

There is no one-size-fits all walking holiday. It’s important to think about what you want from the break. Is testing your physical endurance more important than a route lined with tea shops? Do you want to socialise with like-minded people or do you prefer to self-navigate with only nature for company?

Consider the following types of walking holiday:

How to Prepare Physically for a Walking Holiday

A certain level of fitness is required in order to get the most out of a walking holiday. Exactly how fit you need to be will depend on the terrain and distances to be covered.

A four-mile canal walk requires far less stamina than a twenty-mile hike in the peaks of the Lake District.

When you book the holiday be realistic about your abilities, even if you do plan to do some training beforehand. It’s impossible to go from couch potato to mountain climber in six weeks!

If you are not used to regular walking, begin an exercise regime at least three months before the holiday. If you have any medical issues ask your doctor for advice beforehand.

Start slowly and build up gradually. Begin with thirty minutes of walking three times a week and then increase the amount of time as you feel able. Practise carrying your daypack loaded with drinks, waterproof, guidebook etc.

You may also find it beneficial to mix in other kinds of exercise. Mirthy has a range of classes on offer, all of which will improve your mobility and general fitness and they also have some guided walking tours. The Ramblers Association are running short Wellbeing Walks for those new to walking.

What to Pack for a Walking Holiday

When packing for a walking holiday, always prepare for the worst! Much of your kit will depend on the time of year and type of walking but the list below gives some suggestions of what to take with you:

Further Information

A directory of walking holiday providers can be found on the Walking Britain website.

Sally Jenkins is a freelance writer and speaker who also loves walking!

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