Walking is seriously underrated… it’s not just great for your legs, but it’s great for your wallet and, depending on where you walk, is great for the soul. But here’s something to make you feel even more happy about keeping a steady pace:

A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Care early this year scrutinised the relationship between walking and mortality in a large cross section of people – 139,255 to be exact – over a 13-year period. Not only did the study find walking at recommended levels to be associated with a decreased risk of mortality, but it also suggests that taking a walk is better than an intense workout.

Another study, published in 2017, also found no differences in body composition changes between people who did shorter, higher-intensity exercise compared to people who did longer, lower-intensity exercise.

If you couple this with a walk outdoors, among lavish scenery and sprawling landscapes with the sun beating down above your head, it’s not just our physicality and mortality that gets a positive boost.

Women walking in Coastrek. Image: Supplied

In 2015, a Stanford-led study found evidence that walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression. The study found that walking decreased negative emotions among participants who walked in nature.

And then there’s the aspect of walking among friends, and we don’t need a peer-reviewed article to tell us how important kinship is to health.

Di Westaway, Chief Adventure Chick at Wild Women On Top isn’t surprised by the research. The annual walking events she organises in the Sunshine Coast, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne, called Coastrek, see thousands of women each year challenge themselves with an outdoor adventure. Di has seen how good it makes them feel.

“I know thousands of women who use hiking to improve their health and wellbeing,” Di said. “Hiking is accessible to everyone and it doesn’t discriminate on age, size, shape or fitness level.

Di Westaway. Image: Supplied

“Hiking helps our heart, buffs our butts, tones wobbly bits, increases suppleness, builds balance, reduces brooding and maximises memory. And it’s bloody great fun.

“You can’t really dispute the fact that walking in nature is the key to a long and happy life, and when you do it with friends it becomes an even more powerful rejuvenator.”

And Di should know. Since Coastrek began ten years ago, nearly 25,000 people, mostly women, have walked with friends in nature and raised over $22 million for charity.

Her next Coastrek takes place in the Sunshine Coast on Friday, July 27, with registration now open. Don’t expect a sprint or intensive pre-workouts, this is not a race. And what’s better, you can feel good knowing you are part of a collective expecting to raise over $1.4 million for the Fred Hollows Foundation, an NFP fighting to end avoidable blindness.

For more information, visit Coastrek or Wild Women On Top.

Ambient sound of trekking through a forest. Artist: Tim Kahn – Source

Feature image supplied.