There are plenty of good reasons to take walking seriously. It is a great way of exercising without really noticing it! It requires no equipment or expense and can be built into your everyday routine. There are benefits to your health, your wealth and your happiness! How? Here are some specific features.
- Regular exercise can halve the risk of coronary heart disease which is the single most common cause of death for men and women in England.
- Regular exercise can reduce high blood pressure and the risk of having a stroke.
- Walking helps to reduce breast cancer and fade fibromyalgia pain, which affects more than 4% of the total population.
- Walking helps the memory lowering the risk of developing dementia.
- Exercise can also significantly reduce the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes. In addition, it can contribute to strengthen your bones and heart and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Walking will improve your balance, co-ordination and joint flexibility which is especially noticeable in later life.
- Walking just one mile can burn up at least 100kcal and walking two miles a day three times a week can help reduce weight by one pound every three weeks.
- There is no need of expensive gym fees to get fit. Walking is entirely free! There are no additional costs involved.
- Walking is often quicker and does not involve traffic hold ups or time spent looking for a parking space.
- Walking can get you off medicines. Those who walk longer distances tend use less medication.
- Walking is a great way to meet new people and make friends.
- Walking is a good opportunity to spend time with your family.
- Stressed? Going for a walk is a proven way of combating depression and helping to reduce anxiety and stress, as well as improving your mood.
- Walking will increase your energy levels and make you look good.
- Walking will help you to sleep better.
- Lifelong exercise has been shown to reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
If that’s not enough…
Even though most people view walking as a ‘leisurely’ form of exercise, this really depends on your imagination and energy you put into it. Walking a mile at a brisk pace burns up exactly the same calories as running a mile or swimming 15 lengths of a 25 metre pool. Walking can be an efficient and effective form of transport too; so why incorporate exercise into the activities which normally involve passive inactivity such as car trips?
How much, how often…?
To get health benefits from walking, you only need to walk for 30 minutes a day. This could be broken down into two 15 minute journeys or three or four shorter trips if you’d prefer. For a start, why not try walking instead of using the car for school runs or short journeys to the shops. You might even find that walking to school or work during rush hour gets you there quicker. If you don’t want to walk the whole way, consider taking the bus instead of the car as it involves more walking. Or how about going for a short walk during your lunch break? This will improve your appetite, stretch your legs and make you more alert. 150 minutes of walking at a brisk pace could bring some of the health benefits stated above such as heart disease prevention and stress management.
Walking at a brisk pace will provide the biggest benefit but remember to start off slowly and build yourself up gradually. Try to walk most days of the week and gradually increase the time you spend walking. In order to improve your level of fitness you need to increase your heart rate a little above its normal working rate. This requires that you walk at a pace where:
- Your breathing is deeper than normal but still allows you to hold a conversation.
- Your heart beats faster than normal but does not race.
- Your body temperature is raised (without breaking into a sweat).
If you want accuracy on your pace, the average brisk pace was suggested by the researches is 100 steps per minute. This could be measured using a pedometer.