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Getting fitter and healthier with a daily walk

By February 17, 2024news & updates

Getting fitter and healthier with a daily walk

Walking back to happiness: How Tess, the Co-Founder of trundl went from doing everything at speed to getting fitter and healthier with a daily walk

Walking as a form of fitness is under-rated from the get-go

Learning to walk is a much-anticipated early childhood milestone that quickly becomes normalised and overtaken by seemingly more valuable achievements like communication, sleeping through the night and understanding how to unlock a parental smartphone. Once into adulthood, walking was rarely presented as a ‘proper’ AKA ‘marketable’ form of fitness.  As a result, it still can be seen as a dull way of getting from A to B if the distance is too short to take a bus or grab an Uber.

Like most people, I’m lucky enough to have been able to walk for the majority of my life.  But, in line with these inferred perceptions, I didn’t really see it as exercise and a way to get fitter and healthier until injury, the lockdown and helping co-found trundl made me realise quite how effective walking is for both physical and mental fitness and wellbeing.

‘Proper exercise’ is about getting sweaty, right?

Being a dog-owning and light-car-using household, there was a lot of walking in my childhood.  Or at least there should have been had I not always wanted to get there quicker and with more bounce.  If I could run I would and if there was the chance to jump over and off or climb up things, I’d add that in too.  At school I was the annoyingly ‘hyper’ kid, as we were called in those days, who wanted to be on every team and saw everything as competition.

Later, when it came to having to fit exercise in around studies or work, I chose activities and sports that could satisfy that need for a ‘burn’. Even when preparing for a hiking holiday in the Himalayas, I felt compelled to build muscle by running on a treadmill in the gym and sprinting up hills outside.  Invariably, most exercise sessions could only be scheduled a few times a week around city and social life and as a result of such irregular intensity, injuries mounted up.  And it was on one steep recovery process that I learned my ‘double-jointedness’, as I’d grown up calling it, should actually be termed ‘joint hypermobility’; my life-long problems with ‘dodgy hips’ were a sign of hip dysplasia and, as revealed by an X-Ray, the chronic bad back was not helped by a moderate scoliosis.

Walking becomes the best exercise option

Running and impact needed to stop and as I am not a swimmer, walking was the most viable option.  Swapping runs for walks 3-4 times a week and fitting them in around a commute didn’t at first feel satisfying. But when Covid 19 forced us into our homes and a daily walk became the routine, I started to notice a difference.

While I no longer had the ‘satisfaction’ of being sweaty and out of puff, the daily walks were building much leaner muscle tone, particularly with those hard-to-reach glutes and hip abductors. Back-pain, which I had always accepted as part of my life, became less recurrent and provided I still did the set stretches, my hips became more stable and less prone to ‘popping’.  This improved joint performance is neatly articulated in an article from Harvard Medical School ‘Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them’.

Walking in nature for a purpose makes exercise even more meaningful

By now too, we had started work creating trundl the walking for charity app, and I was learning more about the scientific evidence behind the benefits of walking.  About how invaluable walking in nature is for our mental health, as outlined in this article from our friends at The Ramblers.  Testing and then running the trundl app meant we had to go out every day in all weathers. Soon, if I didn’t have a walking day for some reason, I felt quite out of sorts.  Particularly as that also meant my steps hadn’t added up towards creating donations for one of our causes. Save the Children has called that feeling of accomplishment at the end of a charity walk the ‘helper’s high’.

Knowing that you’re walking to help others as well as yourself has surprisingly strong benefits to one’s own self esteem and emotional wellbeing.  It’s a key element in the design of trundl’s virtuous ecosystem. You’re nudged to go out to help some important causes. In return you stay mobile and healthy and feel mentally rewarded for doing your bit and getting fitter and healthier with every walk and enriched from being outdoors.

Having barely a sound joint between us proved to be the inspiration that Hil Mines and I needed to create the trundl walking app.  And we hope that it not only becomes the significant force for good in charity fundraising we envisage, but that it also keeps us – and many like us – on the roads and paths for a lot longer than our dodgy hips, knees and backs might ordinarily have allowed.

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