The beginning of May marks Get Walking Week, when British walking charity The Ramblers is encouraging people to take part in guided walking tours up and down the country. There is a wide range of walks to choose from and each is less than five miles, so they are ideal for both the beginner and seasoned stroller.

The idea behind the Get Walking Week campaign is a bid to get the nation fitter. Recent research undertaken by YouGov revealed that most of us do not get enough physical exercise. Despite the overwhelming majority of the public agreeing that walking is good for us, the reality is that nearly half of us do not walk enough to keep us healthy. The survey revealed that a quarter of adults walk for only an hour or less each week, whilst doctors recommend that we do 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.

The health benefits of walking are huge, however. Not only is walking easily accessible, but it does not necessitate buying equipment or taking out a costly membership. No planning is required to get started. At most, a decent pair of walking shoes will suffice. Walking is a great way for someone to start exercising who might not have taken much physical activity before. At the same time, it can provide a full-body workout for anybody who enjoys a challenge. Whether you choose a gentle stroll on the beach or along a wooded path or a hike up hills and mountains, the great thing about walking is that there is something for everyone and you do not usually have to go too far to find a walk to suit your needs.

Regular walking is also said to prevent many medical conditions, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, high blood pressure and dementia. It can help treat people who are suffering from depression, as it helps boost serotonin levels in the brain, and it is a great way to help lose weight. Walking can also help you to save money by choosing to use your feet instead of hopping in the car or using public transport, and it is a very sociable activity that can enable you to meet new friends as part of a group. It is an activity that can be incorporated into your day, which makes it ideal for people with busy lives. In fact, most people who take part in walking are probably too busy enjoying the scenery around them to be conscious of the fact that they are doing exercise at all.

How do you get started if you want to get walking more? Simple steps such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to the shops instead of using the car and getting off the bus one stop earlier are easy and effective ways to incorporate walking into your daily routine.

If you like the idea of walking as part of a group, however, then look into walking groups, such as The Ramblers, in your area. Decide on the types of walks that interest you most. Walks can be hugely varied, from country rambles to seaside strolls or winding paths in forests and woodlands. You can also enjoy mountain trekking, moorland walks and ambling along tow paths or riversides. You do not have to be a country dweller to enjoy walking. Many organised walks take place in towns and cities, where you can wander around back streets and corners of places that you never knew existed, learning about buildings as part of a history or cultural tour. Some walks are circular, so that you start and finish in the same place but do not come back on the same route, and others allow you to stop off along the route and enjoy a well-earned rest at a pub or tearoom. If you want to get involved with a guided walk as part of Get Walking Week, then there is a whole host of walks to choose from on The Ramblers website.

If you are not used to walking then, as with any exercise, start off slowly to get used to it. Choose a short walk and build up to longer walks gradually. A good pair of sturdy walking shoes that are comfortable and waterproof is essentially all that you need, but the market for walking gear is huge should you desire to go the whole hog and splash out on walking paraphernalia. If you walk in all weathers, then you will benefit from a breathable and waterproof jacket with hood. Waterproof trousers could be useful, too. For long walks, a comfortable backpack filled with plenty of drinks and food to keep your energy topped up is also handy. Keep a map with you, and if you are walking in remote areas, then a compass might be useful.

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