Walking for Well-Being
Keep on walking!
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider the benefits of walking.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Walking for Well-Being) and the means to display them.
- Have available the YouTube video ‘Highlights of the Race Walk Competition at the London 2012 Olympics’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 4.04 minutes long, but you only need to show it until 1.38 minutes. It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdXD2Fe6Hx4
- Show Slide 1.
Welcome the students to the assembly.
- Let’s start with a challenge: let’s see if, between us, we can name ten Olympic events.
Listen to a range of responses.
- One sport that doesn’t necessarily spring to mind when we’re considering Olympic events is walking. However, long-distance walking is classed as an athletics event. It differs from running in that one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times. This is assessed by race judges.
There are two race-walking distances contested at the Summer Olympics: a men’s and a women’s 20-kilometre walk and a men’s 50-kilometre walk. Walking has been an Olympic event for men since 1904, but it wasn’t until 1992 that women could also compete in Olympic walking events.
- Let’s watch this video to get a better idea. It shows some highlights from the 50-km race-walking event at the London 2012 Olympics.
Show the YouTube video ‘Highlights of the Race Walk Competition at the London 2012 Olympics’ up to 1.38 minutes.
- Walking is a great form of exercise, and May is National Walking Month. Let’s consider what benefits there are to building walking into our daily and weekly routines.
- Researchers who have studied the benefits of walking have called it ‘the nearest activity to the perfect exercise’. It’s free, and little specialist equipment is needed apart from a comfy pair of shoes or trainers. Walking has proved to be a great form of exercise for many people during the national lockdowns of the past year because it has enabled people to get outside and stretch their legs.
- The physical health benefits of walking include reducing our risk of a range of diseases.
Show Slide 2 and read through the benefits listed there.
- To keep healthy, the NHS recommends that children and young people should aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day across the week. Walking to and from school may be one way to do this. We could also walk to the local shops, rather than going in a car. Likewise, we could walk up the stairs rather than taking the lift – these are all simple walking-based strategies that we can build into our daily lives.
- Walking also has significant mental health benefits. A good walk can do wonders for our mental well-being.
Walking regularly can improve self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. As we saw on the slide, keeping active can reduce our risk of depression by 30 per cent, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover. Walking outside enables us to pause and take notice: we spot birds, other people, trees, clouds, buildings and activity when we step outside and take a walk.
- So, here is the challenge! How about doing more walking this month?
If you haven’t been used to doing much walking recently, you can take it gently to start with and gradually build up your fitness. Walking at any pace still offers health and well-being benefits.
Time for reflection
We might not think of walking as a spiritual act, but for many people it is.
Walking helps us to look after our health and care for our bodies and minds. People of various faiths regard this as an act of stewardship: taking good care of God’s creation. Caring for our bodies and minds is a way for many people to show respect to the God who created us.
Walking outside can connect us with the natural world. We spot trees, birds, flowers and so on. For many people, that enables them to reflect upon the beauty of our world. Walking in nature gives us the chance to experience awe and wonder at God’s creation. Psalm 19 expresses this idea well.
Show Slide 3.
Walking can be relaxing and meditative. People of various religious traditions use walking as a form of prayer. The regular movement offers the chance to still the mind and focus on faith. For people of many world religions, pilgrimages to holy places are important and often involve walking as part of that journey.
Let’s consider how we might find ways to build walking into our daily life, so that we can improve our physical, mental and spiritual health.
We thank you for our bodies and minds, and the beautiful natural world around us.
We know that walking is good for our health and well-being, and connects us to our faith and sense of spirituality.
We pray for opportunities to build walking into our day today.
We pray that the steps that we walk today will give us greater energy, serenity and trust in you.