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Here's to your health in 2018

When we have all finished celebrating, most of us will review our expanding waste lines and make our new year’s resolutions. Some of us will decide to exercise more and to show our determination by joining the local gym. We will sign up for a membership, paying a monthly membership fee which by April is no longer being used, but the direct debit is still going out of our account.

Here is something that is easy to do and that costs very little; it is something that myself and some of my work colleagues did, that we found was good, not just for our physical but also our mental wellbeing:

At lunch time we made a point of doing a twenty minute walk (weather permitting, actually in bad weather we would walk around the inside of the factory, as it was huge). Where we worked was quite an industrial area but there was a canal that ran along the back of the factory, which was good to walk along, and the amount of other groups out walking at lunch time was surprising, not to mention the variety of wildlife.

The physical health advantages were obvious: fresh air and getting the blood circulating. But also we were getting twenty minutes of sunshine and natural light, which produces Vitamin D – essential for healthy bones and reduces the possibility of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Whether you have low back pain, sciatica or any other body ailments a gentle walk can be beneficial.

The mental health advantages were that it reduced stress levels and depression, because it took us away from our desks and the constant ping of e-mails dropping into our in-boxes or the phone ringing during the lunch break. It was also a chance to talk and socialise with work colleagues, laugh and joke, share our thoughts and concerns, which helped to create friendships, and had the double effect of reducing tensions and building good team working relationships, therefore reducing mental stress.

So a small resolution like going out for regular twenty minute lunchtime walk can reap you lots of other benefits besides the obvious physical ones.

Now I know that some of you will work in city centres for small firms, as my wife did, but she and her friends would take a walk out and then sit in some gardens to eat their sandwiches, enjoy the daylight, do some window-shopping.

If you are lucky enough to be retired, why not start up a lunch time walking group with your immediate friends. You don’t have to become serious ramblers (although that is a good option) just have a stroll around your local park, along a canal, or around a lake or reservoir, and stop off at a nice café for a little lunch.

The important thing is to get out there and make the most of the people and things that surround you!

Enjoy yourselves.

Best wishes for 2018, Ian

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