How often do you go for a walk during your uni day? Walking is known to be a very effective way to raise your energy levels, improve your mood and help you think more clearly about a topic you’re grappling with. I often encourage my students on the integrated foundation year to go for a walk during lunch break. They say it energises them and helps to reset their mood. They never regret going!
Chances are you sometimes arrange to meet friends or classmates for a coffee, so how about getting that coffee to take away and drinking it whilst you walk? Walking whilst talking allows for easy conversation. You will find that the talking flows more naturally than when you are sitting in a classroom or a café. In my experience, there are very few awkward silences during a walk and talk, as you are sharing an experience of walking together with a choice of things to observe and comment on.
It has already been mentioned in this blog that spending time in greenspaces can have a beneficial effect on our mental health, and that there are many greenspaces and walks just a stone’s throw from all our campuses. Maybe you could encourage your classmates to come with you for a walk around Williamson Park in Lancaster or go and find Hadrian’s Wood in Carlisle, or check out Melbourne Park if you are at Carlisle Fusehill Street, or head to one of the park areas close to London campus. Alternatively, just do a few laps around campus!
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Aim for 30 minutes to begin with and have a destination in mind.
- Take advantage of your lunch break to go for a walk and continue conversations that have taken place in class.
- Use the time to talk about your subject, help each other understand something, talk about life in general or just have a good old moan!
- Ask each other open-ended questions and take a genuine interest in what others are saying. It could also be called a walk and listen, because listening is just as important as talking.
- It is an informal social activity so relax, go with the flow, start walking and see where the conversation leads.
- Don’t worry if there are gaps in the conversation, just keep walking!
- Take photographs. This will help you remember the conversation you’ve had in the days or weeks afterwards – Very useful if you do end up talking about your subject.
Perhaps the most exciting part of a walk and talk is that it always leads to insight as you learn things that you don’t expect to. So I hope you will give it a go!
What if nobody else seems keen to go for a walk? Well done for trying, and if you are ever at the Lancaster campus on Tuesdays I invite you to come and walk with me. Meet at the picnic benches outside Alexandra Building just after 3pm and we will go to either Williamson Park or Scotch Quarry. I will be there every Tuesday during term-time. If it’s raining heavily, we’ll make a call on the day!
See you there 😊
Dr Jodi Gregory is an academic lecturer and student development officer working with IFY students at the University of Cumbria