With restrictions on going outdoors for the time being, a walk is a precious commodity. Dr William Bird gives his advice on how to get the most out of your outdoor time.
Currently, the government advice is that you can go for a walk or a run for one form of exercise – a walk, run or cycle – per day. This must be alone or with members of your household. Remember not to touch anything such as gates or fences and to wash your hands when you come back.
We’ve been advised not to use the car for non-essential travel, so start your walk from home. If you see anyone else on your walk, remember that you need to stay 2m away.
There are two different kinds of walks, so try to perhaps include both varieties when you head out. There’s a brisk walk where the goal is to get slightly out of breath and to raise the heart rate. Then there’s a walk with a steadier pace where you’re trying to take a moment to reflect, enjoy nature and being outside; this kind of walk is good for your mental health.
- Have a look at a map to plot a route around your house. Even if you’re familiar with your area, there can be places that you just don’t tend to visit.
- Take the opportunity to notice how the removal of congestion, traffic and noise has really had a positive impact on nature.
- Listen for bird song while you’re walking. The warmer weather means that you’ll soon start hearing the distinctive sounds of birds that are returning for the summer, such as the Willow Warbler and the Chiff Chaff.
- Look at the seasonal changes – pick a tree or a bush or two out on your walk and visit it every day to watch it change.
- Take photos of nature so that you can enjoy them at home
- Really look at the clouds now there are no airline tracks
- When we’re busy with work, we don’t take the time to notice the details around the places where we live. Take a moment to notice new landmarks around your home.
Dr Bird set up Intelligent Health to deliver the Beat the Street physical activity game with the aim of getting communities active together. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, the company has turned its attention to encouraging everyone to do what they can to stay healthy and to increase your body’s immune system. For the next few weeks, #BeatTheStreet will become #BeatTheBug!
You’ll be able to sign up for newsletters packed with hints, tips and advice on how you and your family can stay fit, get active, reduce stress and have fun at home. There will be regular Beat the Bug advice and Q&A sessions with Dr Bird who works on the NHS frontline, and is a renowned expert in physical activity and an adviser to the World Health Organisation and Public Health England.
Dr Bird adds: “Walking is free and available to most people. During this Coronavirus outbreak, some of us are wondering what you can do to help. The answer is that the more we strengthen our immune systems, the better equipped you are to be able to fight it off without being admitted to hospital.
“We recommend going outside and walking or running for 19 minutes, and then exercising indoors for 11 minutes. No matter what your ability or level of fitness, you can get more active, whether that’s remaining seated and lifting tins of baked beans, or going out for a walk. When you walk, you are activating your natural killer cells and these will help fight the virus.”