Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health and while we finally have some dry days and evenings make the most of them and get yourself outdoors.
Although in winter this will be harder to find the right conditions, just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. Not only that but we often don’t get outdoors enough and see some daylight in the winter due to short daylight hours, so whenever you can head swap the car or bus for a walk.
It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Unlike some other forms of exercise and transport, walking is free and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.
Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, can be done at any time of day and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about the risks associated with some more vigorous forms of exercise.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS???
You carry your own body weight when you walk. This is known as weight-bearing exercise. Some of the benefits include:
increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness reduced risk of heart disease and stroke improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes stronger bones and improved balance
increased muscle strength and endurance reduced body fat.
WALKING FOR 30 MINUTES A DAY…
To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.
HOW TO GET YOUR 30 MINUTES IN….
If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) three times per day and gradually build up to longer sessions. However, if your goal is to lose weight, you will need to do physical activity for longer than 30 minutes each day. You can still achieve this by starting with smaller bouts of activity throughout the day and increasing these as your fitness improves.
Physical activity built into a daily lifestyle plan is also one of the most effective ways to assist with weight loss and keep weight off once it’s lost.
TIPS TO MAKE IT EASIER…
Take the stairs instead of the lift (for at least part of the way).
Get off public transport one stop earlier and walk to work or home.
Walk (don’t drive) to the local shops.
Walk the dog (or your neighbour’s dog!).