The Many Surprising Ways Going for a Walk Makes Perfect Outdoor Time (Annabel Streets)

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Annabel Streets Humans Outside

Simple. Boring. Tired. You might think of just going for a regular walk as being something only people with nothing better to do make a part of their daily lives.

But what if going for a walk isn’t only an easy way to spend time outside, but also one that’s so varied and beneficial that understanding the practice is a matter of scientific research?

Author Annabel Streets was so startled by how much better she felt when she started going for walks that she researched the science behind what was happening and wrote a book about it. The result, 52 Ways to Walk, details out — you guessed it — 52 different ways to go for a walk and all of the research behind the benefits of each one.

In this episode of Humans Outside, Annabel shares her least and most favorite ways to walk, her walking journey, and why any of it should matter to you.

Some of the good stuff:

[2:59] Annabel Street’s favorite outdoor space

[3:36] How Annabel became someone who likes to go outside and also go for walks

[7:07] Why she started researching walking

[8:14] Was it hard to find 52 ways?

[8:52] Why people avoid walking

[9:23] Her favorite new way to walk

[12:19] Amy’s night experience

[16:44] What people always think about walking

[18:43] Her least favorite way to walk

[19:39] Another perfect and underappreciated walking favorite

[24:18] Ways to walk that didn’t make it into the book

[30:38] Want to start walking? Here’s how.

[35:06] Annabel’s favorite outdoor gear

[36:49] Annabel’s favorite outdoor memory

Connect with this episode:

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast.

Amy Bushatz: No matter who you are or where you go heading outside is always worth it. Welcome to Humans Outside where we’re using the Humans Outside 365 Challenge to build a life around spending time in nature while learning from fascinating outdoor minded. I’m Amy Bushatz I’ve let curiosity be my guide as a journalist for 18 years, but life, including my husband’s war injuries had burnt us out. So we moved sight unseen to Alaska to see if a change of scenery and new focus on. Was just the shift we needed since September, 2017, I’ve spent at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day, no matter what to explore, how nature can change my life, ready to hear from experts and outdoor lovers who make heading into nature just a part of who they are while we work to do the same? Let’s go.

When I first started my daily outer habit, I knew that there was one type of outdoor activity I could always count on: going for a walk at bare minimum. I thought I could put on whatever clothing the weather demanded shorts, bundled up, rain, gear, whatever, and either walk down the street or go for a walk on some trails behind our house that are owned by a nearby high school. If anything, I hesitated to rely on walking for my outdoor time because I thought it would be too much of the same day of over day and limit me from seeing all the different ways heading outside could change my life. Which of course was the point of the whole original experiment.

One of the things I realized pretty quickly was that each walking experiment wasn’t quite the same as the last one in the way I expected it would. Be taking a walk, as it turned out was an adventure every time I did it in its own special way, whether I was expecting it to be or not. Today’s guest Annabel Streets found walking to be so beneficial and varied that she wrote a book about it giving readers 52 different ways to go for a walk and a detailed and compelling rundown of the benefits of each one. Her book 52 Ways to Walk is almost like a weekly devotional meets challenge for those of us wants, who want to go outside for a stroll. And I have truly enjoyed reading it. Annabel is not just a walker, she’s also the author of award-winning fiction and then other practical non-fiction titles, including the Age Well Project. Today, Annabel is going to, well, walk us through walking and about welcome to Humans Outside.

Annabel Streets: Oh, thank you so much for having me, Amy. This is wonderful.

Amy Bushatz: So we like to imagine ourselves talking to our guests in their favorite outdoor space. Like we’re hanging out somewhere that you love. Maybe in this instance, we’re going for a walk, just an idea, but where are we talking with you today?

Annabel Streets: Well, I think today we are talking as we walked beside the river Thames. The river Thames, as you probably know, runs through London, but it’s also very close to my house and I’ve been going there for 20 years and I love walking beside water rivers, canals lakes, the sea. But the river Thames is quite special to me. So, so that’s where we are, Amy.

Amy Bushatz: Awesome. I love it. I’ve never been here before, so I’m happy to join you here in, in this space for our walk and chat. So tell us just as a very basic, how did you become someone who likes to go outside.

Annabel Streets: Well, I grew up carless. So I have a bit of a headstart because we’re possibly a headstart, but possibly I should have been bored of walking by now, but my parents didn’t drive and we lived in a little tiny village somewhere very remote probably, if you imagine a little village in Alaska, I was in that sort of place, but not so cold and lots of rain in Wales. So it was always raining, but because we didn’t have a car, my parents couldn’t drive and there were no taxis or buses or anything we had to walk if we wanted to go visit a friend, go to a birthday party, you go to school, go to the shop, anything we wanted to do, we had to walk there.

So I guess that’s what started it really. So it’s never felt intimidating to me. It’s always felt very comfortable. Having said that when I, you know, when I got my first car, that was so incredibly exciting because I’d never been in a car. I just drove everywhere. I could not get out of my car. I loved it. But then after a few years in my car, I got terrible backache from, sitting in a desk job and then sitting in my car and then sitting on my sofa all evening. And I thought this is really not good for me. So then I started walking again and then I took it very seriously. And then I just sort of fell in love with it really.

Amy Bushatz: So if you grew up walking in the rain, then that’s, you know, that’s one of those things, and we’ll talk about this in a little bit, but it’s really intimidating to people’s going outside and walking in not so ideal conditions. Like why would I do that? That sounds bad. It sounds uncomfortable, but it sounds like that’s something that you were accustomed to right off the bat. There’s no intimidation factor. It’s just how you grew-up.

Annabel Streets: Yeah, so that’s right, Amy. It didn’t intimidate me. But what I found later on was that none of my children and many of my friends and my husband, they would never come out with me if the conditions weren’t absolutely perfect. So they were what I call fairweather walkers, which I think most people are, they might go out for a stroll on a Sunday afternoon if the sun is shining and it’s all perfect. So for me in the UK here, we don’t have those conditions very often. And I had this dog who needed a lot of exercise and, you know, day after day, I would say to family and friends let’s go for a walk, I need to walk the dog and they would say, Oh, it’s too cold or it’s too wet or it’s too foggy or it’s too windy or it’s too dark or I’ve just eaten. You know, there was so many excuses and one day I just thought, well, you know what, what if I could find a response to each one of these excuses? And what if every excuse they gave me was in fact, a reason to walk, rather than to sit on the sofa. So I just started sort of digging around in the research. I know I’d already written a book about women doing long distance hikes, and that had a little bit of science in, so that was already quite interested in all of these studies that have been done and universities and medical schools and laboratories all over the world. And these studies often don’t get much airtime because I think a lot of people think, oh, walking here, that’s boring. We know how to do that. And in fact, what I discovered was that we don’t really know how to walk in the way that our ancestors did because we’re spending so much time sitting in front of, in front of a laptop or a TV screen, then when we get up, you know our body, we’re all out of alignment. We’re not moving properly. Our hips are spreading cause we’re sitting on our butts all day. So I worked with some walking coaches and they, the two of them separately, sort of realigned me and taught me, really taught me to sort of walk properly so that I could stride more efficiently, and so that walking was actually more, more pleasurable. And from that point on, then I started looking at, the footwear. What why how is that affecting how I walk? And that’s not something I never did before. I just put my trainers on and off. I went. So I looked at things like footwear. I looked at things like the way I was carrying a bag and how that was all pulling me down to one side, the satchels and laptop bags, you’re sort of walking along to tipped over half the time. And then I sort of looked at all these excuses about the weather. And then from there I just sort of went and I ended up with 52, 52 things, which very conveniently fitted in for a year, but year of different walking styles. So that’s a very long explanation, really.

Amy Bushatz: No. I was kind of wondering if you had to scratch around for 52 to meet that, but it sounds like you came up with 52 and then it, and it was more like, oh, check it out, that’s a year.

Annabel Streets: Yeah. And in fact, since then I’ve found more, cause reports are still dropping into my, my inbox sort of every few weeks about something else about walking. So in fact, now I think I’m probably up to about 60, but there’s 52, the 52 in the book.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s just, it’s so interesting to me, how you really flipped on its head, this excuses into reasons, and you can take that and really apply that to so many things in life that are maybe a little uncomfortable on the outset, but once you start doing it, the discomfort almost becomes a reason to do it.

Annabel Streets: Yeah, no, it’s funny. Isn’t it? You’re absolutely right. But if some of the reasons that we give ourselves are, that just because our brain is lazy or our body feels a bit tired, but actually we now know from all of these studies that what our brain wants is it really wants to be worked a bit. And what our body wants is that wants to be worked a bit. So we, so the sofa at the end of the day, the sofa looks very tempting, but actually if we’ve been sitting down all day, our body doesn’t really want to lie on the sofa. Our body, it really wants to go for a walk. So, evening in fact night walking was one of my big revelations because before I would never have gone out after dark, when it got dark, that was time to be indoors.

And I discovered an amazing woman actually, who leads these hikes you know right through the night in really wild locations, which I wouldn’t have I’ve done that on my own I’d have been far too scared, but, she takes small groups and she walks in very remote places. Absolutely no light at all. We’re not allowed to have any torches or I-phones or anything, and we’re not allowed to talk. So we walk for miles in silence with, the sea pounding on one side and the wind on the other side. And it’s a very wild and elemental experience, that’s completely changed my view about, you know, what I want to do in the evening. My favorite evening occupation now it’s not to sit on the safe room and watch a box set. It’s actually to, get my boots on and go out walking. So that’s one of the many revelations I found while researching my book.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I’m so glad you bring that up because I have this year really discovered nighttime as well. I am with you daytime is for being outside and doing things in the daylight and nighttime is for sleeping the end period of story. Why would I go outside at night? It’s dark. But if you don’t go outside at night, you never see the stars, and you never have these sensory experiences, which is what you just described, being able to hear the waves crash and experience the space in a way that you never would notice because you’re distracted by what you can experience in the day light.

Annabel Streets: Yeah, that’s so true. And I think we forget don’t we just how we’re really dominated by our eyes. So when you walk at night, suddenly the vision is gone, you can’t see. So what happens is your underused ears and your underused nose just flip straight into action. I think it’s almost a sort of, it’s a biological thing, isn’t it? The body’s like, Hey, I can’t see quick smell, listen, there’s danger around and there may be danger in Alaska, but here’s certainly in Europe, there’s really no danger at all that, you know, we don’t have bears or wolves. So the only danger of course is that you might fall over, or you might trip. But you know, what I found extraordinary was I said, one of the first things, this walking woman coach said, she said was just have faith in your feet. And I thought, what? No, she said, you’ve just got to trust your feet, trust them, which I thought was about, you know, woo-woo. What does she mean? I’m sure I’m going to fall over and twist my ankle. But you know, she was absolutely right because when it’s dark, if you concentrate on your feet and you sort of let your brain go into your feet. It’s extraordinary. You just don’t, you don’t trip, you don’t fall, even in pitch black, your feet, sort of learn to navigate the landscape in a way that never happens in the light. So that was another extraordinary thing that I discovered.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So I for the first time literally ever stayed up all night, this past summer, I attempted to do a 100 mile run over a mountain pass here in Alaska. So, listeners, and you may have heard that the sun doesn’t set in Alaska in the summertime, which is not entirely true in the entire state. There are definitely parts where that’s true, where I am it does set, but it doesn’t ever get completely dark for a period of the year. And then for the rest of the summer, it is dark for just a few hours. So at this particular time, the sun set around, gosh, it got dark around, actually dark around 1130 and then it came back up around five.

So those, that period of time between those two hours I was running with my friend and I had a headlamp torch on, you know, strapped to my forehead so that I could see roots and whatnot and not trip. And just to give us some visibility with people who were coming the other way, but I one like I said, I literally had never stayed up all night before ever in my whole life, so there’s no chance in the world that I would have been anywhere at that hour, forget in the middle of nowhere in this just draw dropping mountain pass. Because I was there and because I was doing this at night, I saw the sunset, I saw the sun rise. I saw this space in the darkness. And then when I came, you know, it was out and back, so on my way back in that was scared of starting to get light or it was light in some of the spots I was in. So I got to then compare that to this, to the night. It was the most extraordinary part of that experience was being out there overnight, and seeing that space and experiencing that space in those various times of darkness. And I, there are a lot of things about that race, running a hundred miles is no small thing attempting to run 100 miles, also no small thing. It was very hard, but that I think was my favorite part. Being able to just be immersed in that in the darkness. And I never would have I thought that that was going to be the worst part full stop was like, I’m never going to do this again because I don’t want to stay up overnight again. That was my prediction. So it was amazing.

Annabel Streets: That sounds absolutely amazing. I’m very impressed. I’m very impressed by that. Gosh. Wow. Because running is taking it to another level because you can’t really, you really have to trust in your feet then don’t you?

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Also, please don’t think that I was running quickly. So it’s very, it was very, there was a lot of walking in the middle of there and it was a very slow run at the, at the best of times. So that’s, but that’s how you run a hundred miles if you’re not an extraordinary runner- slowly. So neither here nor there.

Annabel Streets: Congratulations. Well done. I take my hat off to you.

Amy Bushatz: Thank you.

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So we’ve talked about how you got to this point. And we talked about some of the reasons we’ve gotten away from walking, both as a regular part of our day, you mentioned just the sitting at the desk, I’m sitting here making a podcast with you acutely aware of the fact that I’m doing it since we’re talking about walking. We sit in front of our TV. We sit in our car and our transportation. Not all the places we live are walkable. So do you think that those of us who are trying to spend more time outside skip over this, like, walkability or walking as a way to spend time outside? Do you think we skip over it too quickly? Sort of just dismiss it as too easy or too obvious?

Annabel Streets: Yeah, I do. I also think quite a lot of people think that walking is boring and the way that they might not think running or cycling, so running or cycling, a lot of people think they might not do it, but they don’t think it’s boring. It has a little bit of sort of fitness glamour, doesn’t it? And there’s something quite parochial about walking. It’s almost as though, because we all learn to do it when we were two and been doing it for ages and we don’t have to train, therefore it’s dull. And certainly that’s what I found with my children. You know, walking, that’s really boring. They would, it, hasn’t got the excitement of speed. And there’s something sort of trudgey about tramping along. So I think we need to, I think we need to overcome that. I think the pandemic has been fantastic in that respect because lots of people then had to walk if they wanted exercise or just to get out of their house. So a lot of people who didn’t walk two years ago have discovered it and are now quite committed walkers. So that’s one of the upsides of the last two years. But I felt even then the other reason I wrote my book was I thought, do you know what did they start all getting bored because they’re just doing the same walk at the same time with the same person in the same place.

And they’ve been doing it for two years through the pandemic and it’s like, oh, okay. Maybe I’ll go back to the gym now. And I guess I just wanted everyone to start thinking oh, maybe I could walk in a different place or I could walk without following my Google maps or I could walk with different people or I could walk at a different time of day, for example, or I could walk backwards or I could walk barefoot or in minimal footwear. So just to get people thinking about um, you know, just keeping some novelty in their walking practice, if you like.

Amy Bushatz: Hm. You mentioned that you really like walking at night now, what is another favorite way to walk that you have? And I would love to know your least favorite way to walk because there are 52 of them. They can’t all be your favorite. So what’s your least favorite way to walk?

Annabel Streets: My least favorite? My gosh, yeah this is a really hard question because that’s sort of like the more, I suppose backwards walking is not something that I would do all the time. I do a little bit of it every now and then, because I think it’s very good for the brain. And it’s also good for certain muscles that we don’t use going forward. But I have to be honest, I don’t go out and walk backwards for an hour every day. I would probably fall in the river Thames or I might get run over. Yeah. So it’s not my least favorite, but it is probably the least practical.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. This, this imagined conversation has taken a sharp right turn into a rescue operation as we fish Annabel out of the river because she decided that we are now walking backwards.

Annabel Streets: That’s right, Amy, come on backwards.

Amy Bushatz: Other than nighttime walking, what’s another favorite that you’ve developed.

Annabel Streets: Walking beside water, which I suppose is obvious given the half the Thames here. But what I didn’t realize was all of the science that goes into walking behind besides water. I just thought, there’s a nice, a nicer river there. And one of the most the memorable walks my entire life, I think is when I walked alone for 10 days and I followed a river through the south of France. And in fact it was a river with a canal beside it. So quite often, I was walking in the middle on this track with a huge river on one side and a canal on the other side. And I couldn’t, I was on my own, with a backpack out. I couldn’t understand why I felt so happy all the time because people, yeah, I was getting little messages from my family. Are you missing us? And messages to my friends, must be lonely. I thought why, why am I not? Why you, why am I really loving this? That’s not quite normal besides, so when I started looking, if I read lots of books about water and what happens to our body and brain, when we’re near water and it’s all explained scientifically in some way. One of the things that happens with with light is that it falls on our skin and it then creates a hormone called serotonin, which you know, is the happy hormone.

But when we’re walking beside water and particularly lots of water, so I had it on both sides of me, you’ve got all the light reflecting, so it’s, you’ve got double the amount of light. So you can think of that. Very crassly as double the amount of happiness. I just felt so very happy. And I think part of that was just the abundance of light.

And then there’s also this theory, which I discovered from evolutionary biologists who say that, who believe that as soon as we’re in the presence of water, you know, for our ancestors, that meant food and it meant drink. It meant we were safe. So if we’re near water, w we’re safe, really, we’re not going to stop or dehydrate to death.

So there’s something in our brain that relaxes when we’re near water, particularly running water, like a river where you can drink from it you can wash in it. You’ve got fish. Not that I was eating the fish or even drinking the water, but clearly my brain just felt deeply relaxed. So, so I thought that was fascinating.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I think about walking along a beach, and all of the sensory things that are going on there often you’re barefoot. So you’ve got that feeling of your feet grounded in the sand and the sand, on your toes, often you’re warm. When we think about walking on a beach, we might think about a tropical location. So now the sun is making you happy. Um, If you live in the UK, you know, that not all beaches are warm, let’s start there. And I am from the coast of California, but Northern California and I can attest, not all beaches are warm. So also in Alaska, not all beaches are warm, so let’s dismiss that, but it’s still a wonderful feeling.

Even walking around an icy beach is something that I love to do because you have the sound with the waves and it’s just, and the smell and just the whole, it’s like a package deal. And it’s interesting because I never thought about that package as being specific to just being beside water. I thought about it as being, like I just said the sand and the sun and there’s waves and like just this whole kit and caboodle. But I, you know, now that I’m thinking about it, I guess walking along river does make me feel that way as well.

Annabel Streets: But it’s a really good point that you raised about the sound. And again, we take it for granted, don’t we? The sound of water, moving water. So the canal didn’t make much moving water in the sense that a wave would. But the river, it was constant water as it sort of went rushing along. And so when I was researching later, you know, water the sounds and loads of scientists have done all these amazing labratory tests, which sounds make us relax most deeply and thoroughly? And it is the sound of water, more so than music, more so than the voices of you know, our loved ones. Water is when we really deeply relax. So you’ve got the sound. And of course you’ve got an abundance of wildlife when you’re by water, you know, you’ve got your waterbirds and your sea birds and you’ve got plant life. So there’s also lots to keep our brain interested and engaged. I think it’s sort of almost perfect really.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So you mentioned earlier that you just sort of came up naturally by happenstance with 52 ways. So obviously it, wasn’t difficult to come up with 52 ways and that you have extras. I’m wondering what are some secret, additional ways to walk that aren’t in your book. We did not talk about this in advance, so if you don’t know off the top of your head, but forgive me for asking.

Annabel Streets: Oh, well, some of the I’ve just started thinking I’ve got some studies I’ve just been looking at, they’ve just come through in the last few days. And they are about how wind blows there was one that looked at co COVID germs and it was, you’re just far less likely to catch any sort of germ if you’re out on a windy day. So I just remember telling someone who was very worried. I don’t, I, you know, I’m just not ready to go out. I said, well look, let’s go out on a really windy day because there will be no germs and, she was thrilled. Well, she didn’t know that she was feeling that she could never go out. So I think for and again, that’s something that scientists have sat and they’re sort of watched germs moving and looked at the speed of the wind and the greater, the speed, the more quickly all the germs just dissipated. So you’ve got wonderfully clean air, and the same goes for pollution. So if you’re in a polluted area, which obviously you’re not in Alaska, but in London, it’s very polluted. If you’re worried about pollution, which we should all be, really, you really want to go for a walk when it’s either very windy or when it’s been pouring with rain, because both of those two things, which most people don’t like walking in a big gales and they don’t like walking in pouring rain, but that is when the air is really clean. So for urban walking, that’s the way to go.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, we do get, we get big wind here. We are with the first day that I ever set foot in this place that I live, it was a windy day in June and I, with fear and trepidation in my heart, because I was not a fan of wind, went into the visitor center and asked the little person behind, just like a little high school kid behind the counter, oh, it’s a windy outside. Does that happen often here? And he just sort of chirped back me. Oh, that’s Palmer, which is our town that’s Palmer, the wind comes off the glacier. Like that was a encouraging statement. Oh good. The wind comes off the glacier. Awesome. Sounds cold to me. But that means that it is often windy here. And that’s just the fact of life. However, even though we don’t have air pollution from vehicles and that kind of thing, when a lot of people are heating their home by wood stoves, that smoke just sort of settles in the winter.

And then of course, like anywhere else in the world right now, we do have a lot of wildfires. And even though they won’t necessarily be near where I am again, that smoke settles here in this valley. And so those windy days do clear that out. And I give all of those as an example to say, no matter where you are, wind is pushing something out of there. So yeah, be grateful for it.

Annabel Streets: Yeah. Well, it’s so true. And you know, if we didn’t have wind, we would all die. So, so wind is really essential. But the woman who really changed my mind about wind actually right at the beginning, but even before I got to the science was Georgia O’Keeffe. Who, the artists cause she absolutely loved windy walks. I and I just read her accounts and she would just write great, great long letters about, I love the wind, so wonderful. And I thought, I’m missing something, why am I not, why am I not loving the wind? And just knowing that she had loved it. And she walked like you in very windy places, in Texas got huge hot, dry winds. So I went out one day and I just thought, you know, I’m going to imagine I’m Georgia O’Keeffe and and see how this winds feels. And I started to think, actually, this wind’s quite nice.

Amy Bushatz: That’s so funny you say it because when I go out in the rain or wind and I, I spend time outside every single day. So these things will happen. I feel like a Jane Austen character, they are just sort of meandering in the wilds and the, in the wind and the rain catching her death of cold. No no. No one dies from a trifling cold. These are the things you think about when you’re, when you’ve read way too much, way too many Jane Austin novels. You know, it’s, it’s a little bit comforting though, in a way, because in those stories, that’s presented as being a taste of freedom. And when I think about being out there and walking, I want to think about it in the context of, this is a form of freedom for me that I can, and I have the ability to step to open my door and step outside even for just 20 minutes and go for a walk, no matter the weather.

Annabel Streets: It is, it’s the ultimate in freedom really? Isn’t it? I don’t think you ever feel, I never feel freer than when I’m just outside walking. And in fact the wilder weather, the freer, I feel really oddly.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. No, that makes perfect sense. But you know, what’s so funny about some of the things that you’ve been pointing out is, they seem to me like things we intuitively know. You were happier walking in those water spaces because you intuitively knew that this was a good place to be. And then there’s science to back that up. We are happier when we hear the sound of waves and we feel better and than that’s happening because we intuitively know something. And then there’s science to back that up. When you are feeling wild and free out taking a walk, your body is telling you something, your brain is telling you something. And then your book presents the science to back that up. And I just love a book full of reasons why I should keep doing something that I already like, so.

Annabel Streets: You’re absolutely right, Amy. And when I was looking at the history of walking and I kept, I found that, you know, Coleridge, for example, the poet, he would walk from waterfall to waterfall. He called himself a waterfall chaser. And after he did these waterfall hikes, he was, he often suffered depression, but he would always come back from his waterfall hike and his depression had gone. So he just knew that instinctively. But now we have science, we have science saying, oh, that’s because of the negative air ions. So, so I love the fact our body actually knows it. We don’t really need the data. Our bodies know it, but our brain needs the data, doesn’t it, to convince us to get off the sofa and go out

Amy Bushatz: That’s so true. Okay. Can you give listeners three or four ways to get started with a walking habit?

Annabel Streets: Oh, you mean for someone who just doesn’t walk.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, somebody who maybe doesn’t walk or doesn’t want to walk or doesn’t or thinks that we’re crazy because we are spending all this time going on and on about how much we like going for a walk backwards.

Annabel Streets: I suppose the first place to start I think is to, is to start small, don’t go off and decide you’re going to do a great long pilgrimage, 35 kilometers a day up and down mountains, start small, start with a 10 minute walk, start with getting up and making it part of your routine. So in the way that it’s part of your routine now, Amy, and my routine we just couldn’t imagine not going outside. Could we and moving around a bit, so, so start small start with 10 minutes or 12 minutes. I think it was a chapter in the book called ‘Take a 12 Minute Walk’ because scientists have discovered that a 12 minute walk is all it takes to change by over 500 metabolites, little compounds in your body. So within 12 minutes, your body is saying, yay, I love this. I need this. So it doesn’t have to be a long walk, it can be short. And, also choose a route that suits you. If you’re not you know, a sort of a hardened walker find a route that’s, perhaps got a coffee shop on it so that you can grab a coffee or grab some water, find a route that’s perhaps got a bench on it so that, there’s somewhere to sit down if you’re going to be a bit tired after 10 minutes or five minutes. And also find a route that you like, there’s nothing worse than walking along the highway. So. find some nature and whether that’s urban nature, a park or a cemetery, I love cemeteries in it just do that.

And find a walk that you can do from your door. I know that’s sometimes easier said than done, but to be able to walk out of your door is much more compelling than thinking, oh, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to get in the car. Oh, I’ve got no petrol. I’ve got to go to the garage first. And then I’ve got to put as much a park, that’s very easy that’s a very easy stage at which to fall isn’t it like, oh, I’ll just stay inside. So find a short, route from your door. That includes something you like, whether that’s a favorite little shop or a bench or a tree or a view, and factor that into your morning .And then try and do it every morning and then just see where that takes you.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. So we, you know and I talking before we started recording, but inspired by reading your book and getting ready to talk to you today, I thought, you know what? I am not going to take a walk in the woods, which is what I usually do because in my brain, I think, oh gosh, like if I’m going to go, I should go into the trees. Like that’s going for a walk. And instead I’m going to take a walk down my nasty ice-covered street, see what’s going on. So the example would be undoubtedly pleasant, one would be questionable.

And what I found on my walk down my, I mean, just covered in ice and slop and cars are going around me and I’m having to navigate these humongous ice berms. Disaster from a ground perspective, what I found was a really beautiful sunset reflecting in the puddles on the street that I, 100% would not have seen was I in the woods and. My neighbor drove by, we chatted for a second. He wouldn’t have driven by me in the bushes, in the woods wasn’t going to happen. Right. So there are two things right there that I saw and experienced because I chose to just literally open my door and head down my street, instead of finding a destination to experience going for a walk, which is exactly what you’re saying, find an accessible area, but then also be open to experiencing that in a way that may not have been what you were expecting.

Annabel Streets: You’re so right also about the importance of having those relationships, whether that’s with your neighbors or, you know, the people that are also walking. And if you drive somewhere it’s a lonely experience, really being in a car. We forget how lonely it is. You’re not really making contact with anyone, but when you step out of your door, most of us will pass someone, even if we’re just waving to someone through a window, there is a little bit of human interaction. So you’re spot on with that.

And that’s of course how we build our communities. Isn’t it, by walking in and noticing that someone’s left the door open or waving to someone or collecting a stray cat or whatever it is.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, absolutely. So Annabel before we let you go today, can you tell us maybe one of your most favorite or most essential pieces of gear or something that you use or love or own for your walking experience? That just really makes it the most pleasant it could be.

Annabel Streets: Well, everyone will have their own climate that they have to contend with. And I have to contend with a lot of rain here. So for me, it is waterproof trousers, really because you know, most we will have a coat don’t we that’s a bit more proof, but generally people set off and they might have an anorak. And I used to do this, but then they’ve still got the jeans on. Then you’re wearing your jeans and they get drenched and it’s really horrible experience. But if you have waterproof trousers in your backpack or in your pocket, you can just put them on. And, and your, and, and you also, you can sit down in your waterproof. Charles is you can sit on the edge of the river bank, or you can sit on a wet bench, or you can sit on a cold sandy beach, you know, and you, you still stay warm and dry inside.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, I have to say for those U.S. listeners, you’ll Google or search for quote-unquote rain pants is what they’re called here. And um, although waterproof trousers sounds much more official. And I’d say it is one of the best things I own, like they don’t get used, I don’t use them every single day. It doesn’t rain that much here, but man, am I glad when I have. They weren’t very expensive and they’re going to last me the rest of my natural life. So just the one pair and I’m, I’m really glad I, I own those. So thank you for bringing those up.

Okay. Final thing. If we were to, since we’ve been imagining ourselves hanging out with you, having a walk, if we were going to imagine ourselves with you in a outdoor time, that you love, something that you just like to think back to where are you? And what are you doing? Would you mind describing that for us?

Annabel Streets: Oh, I think I will be up in the mountains in the north of Greece. Am I allowed to be in Greece?

Amy Bushatz: You are allowed to be in Greece. We like Greece. Let’s go there.

Annabel Streets: Up by the, it’s a very remote area. I walked there last year and it is on the border of with Albania. So it’s right up in that Northern corner. No one really goes there and we had been walking for days and there were no roads, completely all off of sort of piste really, and lots and lots of golden Eagles, amazing wildlife. And then we got to the top of this mountain and lo and behold, there was a cafe there and they sat there were serving hot food. Which they got all the food and they sort of carted it up the up hundreds of mountains on the backs of donkeys. We were just, we just, wow. We can have spaghetti bolonaise at the top of this mountain, which is like, 300 miles from anywhere.

Amy Bushatz: What a treat. And one thing about walking a lot, you get hungry and you’re very into spaghetti at the end. I can testify that’s the case.

Annabel Streets: You need spaghetti at the end, indeed.

Amy Bushatz: So friends, I hope that you take a look at Annabels book ,52 Ways to Walk, for some ways to walk. Maybe next time it will be walk and eat spaghetti will get added to it and Annabel, thank you so much for giving us your time and your expertise today to, to share about walking. We appreciate you.

Annabel Streets: Oh, thank you so much for having me, Amy. It’s been wonderful. Thank you.

Amy Bushatz: Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode of Humans Outside. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, give us a little love and leave a rating and review to make it easier for others to find the podcast to what you say matters. It really truly does make a difference. And until next time we’ll see you out there.

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