What type of walker are you?
Walking is one of the most accessible forms of fitness activity – and one of the most effective. You can walk solo, with friends or family, to work or the shops or for miles and miles through the mountains. Walking is also a great way to enjoy a healthy holiday.
Here we reveal six types of walker
Walking is a great way to enjoy your own time. A bit of space for your own thoughts and time to look back and think ahead. Graeme, from Glasgow, likes walking with friends but he relishes a solo walk in Scotland’s mountains. He says: “When you walk on your own you can switch off. You do need to stay alert for navigation but you don’t need to be in tune with anyone else’s conversation or thoughts.
“I love the sense of freedom and the space to think about my things or think about nothing at all. I always return from a day of walking solo feeling refreshed and very relaxed.”
Weight loss walker
Walking burns on average around 100 calories per mile. The faster you walk – and the heavier you are – the more you burn. Walking will also tone and strengthen muscles and can be a great way to relieve back pain.
Susan, from Aberdeen, took up walking three years ago and quickly saw weight loss results. She says: “I was around three stones overweight and feeling very unfit. I couldn’t face any of the gym classes and running was a step too far. So I just started walking each evening after my dinner.
“I started with more of a stroll and it was only about a mile but within a couple of months I could walk three times this distance and at a brisk pace.
“I lost more than a stone in the first four months and then another stone by the end of the year. The final stone has been slower to come off but I feel so much fitter and healthier. I now walk whenever I can, to work, the shops, with friends and I have just joined a hill walking group.
“Walking is a great way to lose weight and feel better about yourself.”
The winter walker
The dark days of winter can lead to the “winter blues” or worse, such as depression and SAD (seasonal affective disorder). One of the reasons for this is a lack of natural daylight. Many people go to work or school in the dark in the morning and come home in the evening when the sun has set. A short walk at lunchtime and longer walks at the weekends can help to boost mood.
Jay, from Newcastle, swears by a daily winter walk. He says: “For many years I suffered a general low mood each winter. It would come on around November and stay until March. It wasn’t anything too bad but I did feel kind of depressed and grumpy.
“Then I read about a study that showed that just 20 minutes of walking in daylight each day could boost serotonin levels and improve your mood.
“Since then I have always made sure I get a walk of some kind in the daytime in the winter months. Because I work in an office I make an effort to get out at lunchtime. I have also been known to walk and talk with colleagues, instead of sitting in a dull meeting room!
“A walk a day has made a huge difference to my mental outlook in the winter months.”
The night walker
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Walking with the sunrise[/caption]
Alan, from Glasgow, is known as the Moonwalker. The journalist spent many years working late shifts on a daily newspaper and found that the only time he had left to walk was at night. He was also intent on walking all of Scotland’s Munros (mountains with a summit of more than 3,000ft).
So Alan would finish work after a late shift, drive north and then start walking. His first round of Munros included 100 summits in the dark.
Now he is semi-retired he still enjoys night-time waking. He says: He says: “I love getting out on the hills at any time but there’s something special about walking at night. The solitude is wonderful. I hardly ever meet a single soul in all my wanderings. Sometimes I feel like the last person on earth.
“And I have never tired of seeing the sun rise. Where better to watch it than from the slopes of a mountain?”
He writes a column in Daily Record Aberdeen and his book Moonwalker: Tales of a Nocturnal Munroist will be published by Back Page Press in 2014.
The group walker
When Joanne split from her long-term partner she was looking for a new hobby – and a way to meet new people. A friend encouraged her to join a walking group and she has never looked back.
Joanne, from Wiltshire, says: “I was a bit lonely and I needed to get a bit fitter so a walking group seemed like the perfect solution. I was lucky enough to find people who walked at my kind of speed and we enjoyed a walk most weekends.
“These days I am much fitter and I can walk much further. The friends I met in the group still walk, too, and we have enjoyed some great hill walking adventures together.
“This coming year we plan to walk one of the UK’s great trails, perhaps the Cotswold Way
or Scotland’s West Highland Way
“I don’t think I realised how much fun walking could be. It has been a great life save for me.”
The Pilgrimage walkers
If you've been watching the wonderful BBC2 series Pilgrimage with Simon Reeves you will know that many thousands of people have – and still do – set out to walk some of the world's famous Pilgrimage routes. See our blog
. These include the Camino Pilgrimages
in France, Portugal and Spain. Other Pilgrim Tours
(offered by Macs Adventure) include Kumano Kodo, St Cuthbert's Way and the St Jacob's Tour.