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Published July 21st 2020
And gaining the motivation to walk them
Amazing what you see in your neighbourhood when you get out and walk - photo @nadinecresswell-myatt
As a WeekendNotes reader you are someone who enjoys exploring your city. Many of you are probably keen travellers as well, so the stay at home order is possibly hitting you doubly hard.
We all know that staying at home is for our own good and the good of our community, but that doesn't stop it feeling like home detention.
Daily walks (something we are allowed to do for exercise) is a way that we get to go outside. And while unable to travel far if we try new walks we can fulfil that old adage: "a change is as good as a holiday."
Let's Start with the Why
The physical benefits of a walk are well-known. But, if you haven't already noticed, your mental health can suffer if you stay inside for days on end. Walking releases chemicals in our brains, like serotonin and endorphins, which are mood boosters and that is probably the most important reason for getting out for that walk. If you want more on the subject listen to this lively podcast next time you are out for a walk. Lockdown 2.0: What's Happening To Your Brain And Mental Health?
And studies have shown it doesn't have to be far as even a walk around a park offers significant protection against depression.
Walking is Something we Never Regret
As I once overheard a doctor comment to a patient: "We might not feel like going for a walk ,but nobody returns a walk and say "I regret doing that.'" The reason is because walking always puts you in a more positive frame of mind.
When the world's problems loom large there is the mindfulness that comes with a simple walk. There is such joy in seeing the changing of seasons, a cute baby in a pram, a delightful garden, street art, or teddy bears peeking out of windows.
Spotting a keen gardener Surrey Hills street walk- photo @nadinecresswellmyatt
Similarly, I keep a credit card in a zipped pocket should I happen upon the perfect coffee shop for a takeaway. Others perhaps use ApplePay on their iPhones.
I have also made walking my reading time.This has meant succumbing to Audible during the pandemic as they have a huge range and many recent titles. They have a free trial for the first month.. And this seems to include one or two free titles as well. So you can stock up and only keep it going if you enjoy the service.
There are also free books through libraries. I joined a couple of libraries. Yes, they are closed, but many are still operating in terms of processing new memberships online and posting out library cards. You can join any library you like. And you don't have to go into a physical library to borrow as audio book dowloading is organised online. Here isan example of what's on offer.
Because I don't listen to books at home the pleasure of listening to a good book is something I associate only with walking.
Tips: If you choose something riveting such as a thriller or mystery you will be dying to get out there every day to find out what happens next. I also listen using only one earbud so I am aware of other sounds around me such a a car backing out of a driveway.
Set Yourself Rewarding Challenges
Printing off a map of your local area can work as an incentive. After you return home you highlight the route you walked. This can be motivational as you can set yourself goals such as walking every street in your suburb and this way you can can see your progress. Or if you prefer to do this digitally you can share your accomplishments with friends. Try the Strava app, for iPhone and Android. While used more by runners it can also be used by walkers.
Or make a game of it. A friend of mine sets herself challenges when she goes for a walk such as entering three parks.
Stop for Exercises. It might be some stretching exercises for example, or curb-side step ups say -- 10 or so before you continue your walk.
Add Intervals - You can pick a landmark, such as a tree or parked car and then walk towards it quickly then allow yourself to slow down for awhile when you reach it. If you are listening to music you could walk faster when the upbeat songs are playing.
Walking is perfect for active meditations. This can be about tuning into your breath when you walk or of being mindful of each step you take. This helps you to live in the present.
I believe getting out of the house should be the aim over the number of steps. But looking at your total number of steps after a walk can be rewarding. If you don't have a Fitbit then even the Health App (that heart) on your iPhone will give you the details without having to download anything additional. And there are heaps of other apps you can download.
But don't beat yourself up if you fall well short of that infamous recommendation of 10 000 steps. When we are stuck at home incidental exercise such as commuting, walking around workplaces, or strolling through shops is not happening so getting those 10 000 steps isn't all that realistic.
Make Walking Your Socialising Time
Some people swear that walking with a friend keeps them motivated. And it is true that the miles disappear when you are engaged chatting to someone.
And at the moment you are still allowed to walk with a member of your household or with one other person outside your household.
Others prefer not to contact friends for walks at the moment, so they can keep associations down to a minimum. But don't forget you can save up your phone calls to friends for when you are out walking. It is best to have your earphones in, and the phone in your pocket so you still have your hands free.
In an interesting experiment I also did a visual call with my toddler grandson who lives in the States. He was most impressed when I showed him different cars I was walking past and then a train pulling into the station. This call was a lot more interactive than the ones I normally have with him when I am at home and stationary.
Walks are also a chance to chat with neighbours from a distance. And have you noticed that Melbourne in some ways has become a whole lot friendlier. Perhaps, it is because we have been so cooped up we tend to really look at the people we see, smile at them and even say hello. We recognise that they like us have probably been inside all day as well. And many of them perhaps live alone.
Finding New Walks
Premier Daniel Andrews is urging us all to walk in our own areas rather than to travel to trails such as the Tan in the Royal Botanical Gardens.
That is why I really like the website Walking Maps. It allows you to put in your location and then lists the walks that are closest to you.
The bonus is that you can view this website on your phone and it integrates with Google Maps.
I thought I knew my area well until I discovered this website. I have done new walks almost every day this week and it has felt like being a tourist in my own city.
I love that you can sort walks on this site by distance from your home, the level of difficuly and how you have the choice of theming your walks. For example, you can tick boxes so that it brings up walks that include art and culture (this often means wandering past street art), points of historical interest, nature trails or dog friendly walks, amongst a host of other options.
Walking in the back blocks of Box Hill near Box Hill Swimming Pool - photo @redbagwilltravel
Williamstown to Jawbone Coastal reserve
Brimbank Park, Keilor
Point Cook Wetlands walk
Walk in Secret Gardens for Less People
Melbourne is full of secret gardens -- so these can be great places to go for a walk. Examples include Balwyn's Maranoa Gardens (gates shut at 4pm) a treasure trove of green lawns, a hidden creek and exotic Australian plants and foliage. Or the delightful, old English style Canterbury Gardens. . While Werribee Park Mansion is closed at the moment the beautiful gardens are still open. .
Heidi Museum of Modern Art is also closed to the public but the grounds remain open and you can wander down past all the outdoor sculptures to the banks of the river. The coffee shop is open for takeaway coffees.
Cranbourne Gardens remain open for exercise with a maximum group size of two people except if you are walking with your immediate family. (Daily, 9am–5pm). I put off seeing this garden for years thinking it would not be all that interesting. When I finally went I was totally transfixed by the landscaping and water features and now regularly take interstate visitors there to show them something wow about Melbourne they might not have known about.
Noticing the details when one walks- photo @nadinecresswellmyatt
Download any podcasts, books or music you want to listen to.
If you use a camera check the battery is charged.
The most common item to forget is earphones. Maybe keep a spare pair in your jacket pocket.
Gather other things you need together so you are ready to go and leave them near the front door. This might include the dog's lead, a warm jacket, your mask, and your walking shoes with the socks already in them -- ready to go.
Outer Circle Rail Trail Photo Deepdenehttps://www.weekendnotes.com/outer-circle-anniversary-trail/ @nadinecresswellmyatt