Putting the Fun Back into Fitness with Emma Sandall

Spring is here in Sydney. It seems to bestow on us all a bright energy, just like the flowers coming into bloom. My friends and I decided that this is the year of exploring more of the city we live in: getting to know all its nooks and crannies; its beautiful coastlines and public spaces. And we’re doing this by organising regular Sunday morning walks together.

Walking in Sydney
The Bondi to Bronte walk and the delights of Sculpture by the Sea

Walking – at a moderate-to-fast pace – is a type of Long Slow Distance training, that is great for your heart health. Simply put, it elevates your heart rate and keeps it there for a sustained period of time. This “time under exertion” gradually builds strength in the muscle itself, and in so doing improves your cardiovascular fitness.

Running and jogging can get the heart rate up quicker and make your body work harder, but you can do a lot of good just by going for a nice long walk (try an hour or two). You are less likely to injure yourself, or exacerbate any existing niggles. And you will have more time and focus to absorb beautiful and interesting sights as you go.

This is a great activity to enjoy with friends and family. Rather than sitting down face to face and revisiting the same conversations, or repeating patterns of behaviour – some of which are not so positive in nature – walking breaks it up by getting you out and about. I find it inspires new ideas and topics and brings greater awareness of the shared experience. And because being active naturally releases good exercise endorphins, you’ll most likely find your conversations brighter, and more “light-hearted” as well.

When you are out and about, you will cross paths with fellow walkers, a friendly community of folk by and large. Most like to exchange a word or two about the track, what they have seen, where they have been, what’s in flower, or a vista that’s just around the bend. In Sydney we are tremendously lucky with the variety of walks we have available for all seasons. City and suburban walks: parks, beaches, coastlines, bush and mountains a hop, skip and a jump from your front door. There are now terrific apps and publications to tell you about all the different walks in your area, providing information about their length, difficulty, and how to get there.

It’s a good idea to be a little prepared for walking – although it is really not a paraphernalia-dense activity. Taking along a bottle of water, a hat, sun cream and sunglasses is a good idea. I cannot walk without my camera as every bend seems to frame a new perfect shot! And make sure your shoes are right for the terrain. Blisters are no fun at all.
Emma Sandall
Emma Sandall is an ex-ballerina turned fitness and health guru. She teaches and coaches dance, fitness and Pilates and writes and produces video for all things movement related. Emma runs Body Playground, a space to activate and inspire body and soul.