Ahead of National Walking Month 2021, we carried out research to find out what Brits have enjoyed most about walking more this past year.
Walking was seen a great way to stay healthy, to meet friends and family in a safe and legal way, and to discover new places.
We spoke to three people in more detail to find out more about what walking has done for them this past year.
Sam contracted Covid-19 last year. She's been taking her recovery one step at a time.
Before Covid I cycled to work and went to the gym five times a week. Although I had a mild case of Covid, I developed post viral syndrome (aka Long Covid) and had three months off sick.
The first exercise I managed to do as I recovered was to walk halfway down my street. Every day I went a little bit further, until I was able to walk around the local park, feeling a little bit less breathless each time. Now a year later I walk to re-stock our local community larders (old phone boxes), and to my allotment several times a week.
Walking regularly has helped me see the progress I am making in my recovery. Walking to the allotment in particular is lovely, as I live in an urban area, and the allotment feels like another world. During lockdown, walking was a way to keep in touch with friends and neighbours, and to support our community Mutual Aid group, helping people affected by the pandemic with food, IT equipment and other necessities.
I will keep on walking because it keeps me more connected to the community I live in.
Kim Kjaerside took part in our #WalkingFromHome photography competition, winning for purple week with a gorgeous photo of crocuses taken on a walk with his family. He tells us the joys he’s been finding in a daily walk.
Myself, my wife and our two young kids live by Portobello, Edinburgh's seaside. Here we have been fortunate enough to have a local burn, fields and of course the beach to visit.
During the last year we have got to know our local area so much better and been on many small adventures with the kids, exploring and learning about the local wildlife.
My photograph of the crocuses was taken during one of many walks in our local National Trust for Scotland's garden and forest. It's one of our daughters favourite wildflowers and the setting seemed appropriate to showcase their beautiful purple colours.
Jemma shared this photo taken of her daughter on one of their regular walks. She tells us what they’ve loved most about walking together.
Taking my 6-year-old daughter for her daily walk around the local neighbourhood has been a real lifesaver for us, both mentally and physically, over the past year. We have always walked to our local shops and parks, as well as to school every day, but somehow getting outdoors, for however brief a time, has felt much more precious since the pandemic began.
Whilst we're lucky enough to have some wonderful parks and green spaces nearby, we also really enjoy taking short walks around the local neighbourhood, observing the interesting features of the local urban landscape and discovering more about the area's rich history. Quite often something we see will spark an interesting conversation between us, which helps us feel a real sense of connection with one another, as well as with the place we live.
Seldom a day goes by when we don't bump into a friend on our walks. These brief points of contact, even a quick wave or a 'hello' from the other side of a road, have really helped keep our spirits up and lessened the inevitable feelings of isolation brought on by lockdown. The past year has really reminded me of the importance of community and I've appreciated these moments even more.
We asked over 2,000 people what they've enjoyed most about walking this past year. Here's what some of them had to say...
Walking the dog!
Speaking to other dog walkers!
Seeing local wildlife!
Playing Pokemon GO!
Improving my fitness level - 48lb down so far!
Getting out of the house together - family time!
Photographing the beautiful scenery!
Getting into a better routine in my wheelchair!
Noticing the seasons change!
Seeing the stars at night!
Reducing my carbon footprint!
Spending time with my girlfriend!
Getting some peace and quiet out of the house!
Walking is good for our minds, our bodies and our neighbourhoods and has been a lifeline during the past year, helping people stay active and connected. That’s why we want everyone to keep going and pledge to #WalkThisMay!
Let us know how many short journeys you plan to walk each week during National Walking Month (for the purpose of this pledge, we're counting a short walk as around one mile or 15-20 minutes).
We'll then show you how many miles you'll walk, how many calories you'll burn and how much CO2 you'll save across the month compared to if you were driving those trips.
We will also enter everyone who pledges into our prize draw to win either £200 or £50 worth of outdoor clothing shopping vouchers, so you're ready and raring to go - whatever the weather!