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London = Walking

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

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YOU. WILL. WALK. A. LOT! Seriously. Yes, really - even if you think you won't. You will. Unless you are flush with cash and intend to literally take a black taxi from door to door, you will walk more than you think you will. And, even if you do that, you will still walk a lot through everything. The Tower of London takes about 3-4 hours to see and there are lots of stairs and you will be on your feet the whole time. Then, you'll have to walk to the nearest spot a taxi could even pick you up. The road in front of the Tower isn't open to traffic. If you intend to take the tube from there, it's nearly half a mile from the Tower of London to Tower Hill Station - a good 10-minute walk. That's just how it goes. And part of that walk is over really rough cobblestones. The ones on the area in front of the Tower are no joke. They are uneven and big. It's an ankle work-out, for sure!

And, there are many times when you will see that it's a 30-minute trip on public transportation or a 20-minute walk and you'll decide to just walk. Walking in London is just unavoidable even for the non-walkers.

I took a group of friends to London in December 2019 and I warned them that we would walk a lot. Some were fine with that, but one said, "I wish I had taken you seriously about walking." Not only had she not prepared for walking, but she brought totally the wrong shoes for walking. She was miserable for a lot of the trip and eventually started staying in the hotel room because she didn't want to walk anymore.

Speaking of SHOES! Here's my custom Lizzie Underground walking shoes. I can't wait to wear them on the Elizabeth Line on my next trip! They are so comfortable! Use SimplyLondon10 for 10% off!

My London trips have been most enjoyable when I had a level of fitness for them. I am not a big exerciser and I have bad knees and feet that need comfortable shoes, but, when I prepare for London, I enjoy it more.

The things you want to be fit and flexible are your feet, ankles, knees and hips. Central London is FAIRLY flat terrain. But, there will be stairs, uneven sidewalks, cobblestones and curbs (kerbs as they call them) that you will need to navigate. And, if you decide to go to Primrose Hill or walk up the hill in Greenwich - or even the uphill march to Highgate Cemetery, you will need some level of fitness to get there.

So, here's my advice - work on walking distances plus ankle, hip and knee strength and flexibility. You can thank me later.

Easy Fitness Over 50 (no affiliation) has some REALLY AWESOME quick workouts for your joints to get them in shape. Yes, I'm targeting the more mature people like me, here. I've been using her quick workouts for a few months and my joints love me for it!

I am also attaching a bit of a plan for you to get moving. Like I said, target your ability to walk, your ankle strength and flexibility (if you've ever rolled an ankle, you'll understand), your knees (for the unavoidable stairs) and your hips.

A fitness plan for walking

Right now, I am doing 3 brisk 10-minute (and growing) walks a day on my treadmill plus all the toe raises and hip exercises and I'm feeling ready to tackle my next trip! Going up the stairs sideways one foot at a time has really helped me with my stair issues. So many tube stations have stairs down into them - no lifts in sight - so you will need to be able to do stairs.

So, get moving as far before your trip as you can. Check with your doctor if you are sedentary. But, honestly, if you are sedentary enough to need to check with a doctor, you should probably check with them to see if you are fit enough to tackle London.

I'll say it again. YOU. WILL. WALK. A. LOT. And, frankly, you will want to walk a lot. Walking London is the best way to discover London.

A screenshot of a fitness app

This was from the day we went to the Tower of London. So. Many. Stairs. And, I gave up at the White Tower and let my Daughter-in-law go without me. The sign says there are 214 stairs in the tower. But then, we got back to Queensway station to go to the hotel and both lifts were broken so we had to walk up the dreaded metal staircase to street level. It was a day..... But, it's not even the most I've walked. I've had 12-13 mile days without even trying.

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