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While walking through Britain’s countryside is fantastic in itself, studies have also shown the additional health and wellbeing benefits of taking a walk as part of a group.
After reviewing 42 walking studies, the University of East Anglia concluded that people who walked regularly in a group registered statistically significant falls in average blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, weight and total cholesterol.
Similarly Sheffield Hallam University has found that people are more likely to continue walking regularly if they enjoy the company of others while they’re strolling along.
Aside from the hard and fast medical research, here are four benefits that guest contributor Gareth Williams, founder of outdoor activity specialist Large Outdoors has noticed during the years he has been organising group walking trips:
The happiness factor.
Walking in the countryside is a great way of taking our minds off the worries and concerns that we have in our everyday lives. When you’re walking with other people in a sociable environment, the laughter and smiles as people stroll along in deep conversation can only enhance the stress-relieving potential of walking.
We’ve noticed that many people who were newbie walkers and have since become seasoned hikers, benefited from the morale and confidence boosting that comes from being part of a group.
When facing a tougher, more challenging route, it’s very easy to listen to that little voice in your head that says: “I can’t do this”. Yet we’ve seen time and time again how the support of a group can help overcome those demons, resulting in people growing in walking confidence.
Walking longer, further
Similar to the point above, many people will immediately under-estimate how far and fast they think they can walk. Very often, somebody who thinks they can only do 2-3 miles, suddenly finds that a 6-miler is very do-able when they’re enjoying being in the company of others.
In fact the numbers become irrelevant as it becomes more about the pleasure of being in the fresh air with great scenery all around than focusing purely on the mileage being covered.
Sharing the breathtaking views
Ok there are two schools of thought here. There are those who like to enjoy the breathtaking views that Britain has in abundance on their own; while many others like to share in the experience.
The benefit of being with others is that there is also somebody to take your pic at the top without having to resort to the selfie!
Learning essential skills
It’s one thing taking a stroll along a leafy lane close to a village, and quite another finding the right route off a high peak when the clouds are rolling in.
We find that if one or two people within a group show an interest in learning more about navigation while we’re out walking, then the curiosity of other members will soon lead to essential skills such as map reading, using a compass and route-finding being passed on.
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