Few physical activities are as accessible as walking, making it one of the most common forms of exercise and enjoyment around the UK. It’s always been popular, but the pandemic inspired millions of people to get out and about on foot at every chance they could.
In this article, we’ll explore how this trend has continued and the factors driving the increased popularity of walking and hiking. So, lace up and let’s get going!
Walking on the up, both figuratively and literally
Walking, in all its forms, looks to be trending upward since the pandemic. Research in 2021 found that searches for “walks near me” had risen drastically, at that point up to around 2 million annually.
Figures from the 2022 National Travel Survey suggested that people are walking more often and further just in daily life. This represents a shift in not just pleasure-driven walking, but using it as an alternative mode of transport.
Hill and mountain walking are clearly gaining traction around the country, with the number of people regularly hiking rising by 40% since 2015. But what’s driving these changes even after the pandemic wears off?
The benefits of walking
There are undeniable benefits to walking, whatever distance you’re covering. Here are some of the most prominent:
• Connecting with nature – Getting out and about is special in many ways. Changing up your environment, surrounding yourself with nature and immersing yourself in the “real” world can help bring you much-needed distance from the strains of daily life. Many walkers find their solitude on paths, hills or mountains.
• Better mental and physical health – Walking is a form of exercise that helps build stamina and endurance while improving cardiovascular health. But it can also boost your mental health and help to fight symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. An active body is one of the keys to a healthy mind.
• Seeing new places – Walking gives people the chance to explore places they wouldn’t normally be able to, especially if you drive everywhere. Even just walking down your local streets helps you to notice things you wouldn’t have otherwise. The gentle pace of walking is great for exploration and truly immersing yourself in different settings.
• Accessible to most – You don’t need much to get started. Just put on a comfy pair of trainers or lace up your walking boots and see where the path takes you. Either leave from your front door or drive somewhere and park up before adventuring in whichever direction you like. Taking a drink and some snacks is useful if you’re walking long distances.
The benefits of walking are there for all to see and it shows with the increased popularity of the activity in recent years. Will you start walking more?