Step into Spring - lockdown style...
We all know that magical number of 10k when it comes to steps. But how easy is this to do, especially during lockdown?
Most people often struggled with 3-4000 steps before lockdown. We get in the car- drive to work, sit at a desk most of the day then drive home and sit in front of the TV.
Now, during the third lockdown, the days are short and cold, any we hardly leave the house, so getting those steps in seems more and more of a challenge.
So, with spring around the corner, it's time to take the opportunity of the warmer, brighter days to get those steps up. Here is why you should be stepping into Spring!
Walking is often over looked and under-rated as a form of exercise but it is great for your health, mind and your pocket (its free).
The Benefits of Walking
Improves heart and lung health - Walking is cardiovascular exercise, which is in general terms anything that gets you heart rate up and primarily uses your aerobic energy system (uses oxygen in muscles to convert energy). Cardio exercise has been shown to improve the cholesterol marker ratio in the blood as well as help to control high blood pressure. The extra intake of oxygen taken during walking also contributes to good lung health and better circulation.
Muscle strength & tone - Walking helps to strengthen and tone you legs, bottom and stomach muscles and helps keep you mobile
Low impact - As walking is a lower impact exercise it has less pressure on your spine and joints than other forms. Most people are able to take on some level of walking, just make sure that any injuries, problems and fitness level are taken into account and build it up slowly.
Weight Loss - you can burn up to 300 calories per hour (depending on speed), so just by walking 20 more minutes a day you increase your calorie burn by up to 100. Spread that over the week you have burned 700 calories.
Better Body Composition - lower intensity exercise doesn't burn as many calories as higher intensity work but it will be burning a higher percentage of fat leading to a lower and healthier body fat level.
Prevent loss of one mass - According to arthritis.org walking can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis. A study on post menopausal women has shown that 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of hip fractures by 40%.
Improves mood - exercise releases feel good endorphins. Studies have shown that a brisk walk is as effective as anti-depressants in mild to moderate cases of depression. So a good walk is great for mental health
Vitamin D Boost - We all need to get outside more to get our vitamin D requirements from the sun, so by walking outside you get a double benefit.
Improves sleep - various research has shown that a 30 minute walk, 5 times a week help promote better sleep and better energy levels the next day as a result - win win!
Supports joints - walking can help support joint by bringing nutrients to cartilage through your movement
Slows mental decline and lowers alzheimer’s risk - there has been studies that indicate that walking every day can reduce the risk of alzheimers and also reduce the decline in memory that comes with age.
Step into Spring 2k - 10k
We all know that 10k is the magic number steps that is advised for health, but it is more likely this winter that you are struggling to get near 5000, let alone 10k.
Now is the time to focus on increasing those steps and reaping the health benefits.
If you are currently very inactive build up your steps to 10,000 over a few weeks, if you are already doing 10,000 steps, don't stop there, challenge yourself - do more
Whether you are a seasoned walker or a beginner always make sure you have comfortable walking shoes.
10,000 steps is approx 5 miles, approx 1.5 - 3 hours of walking (if you were to do it all in one go), and approx 400-700 of calorie burn
You don't have to physically count every step yourself, there are lots of products available on the market. All are essentially Pedometers and depending how far you want to take your 10,000 steps a day challenge can range from free to £100. Examples include basic pedometers, Fitbit, phone apps.
How do you increase your steps?
So you may be doing 3000 - 4000 steps a day at the moment but you would be surprised how just a few small changes in a day can soon tot this up to 10,000. So how do you turn the 4000 steps into 10,000 during lockdown:
- Start the day with a few extra steps while brushing your teeth in the morning - aim for 100 steps and you may also find your teeth are getting a better clean too
- So you maybe working at home but this doesn't mean you cant get those morning steps in. Usually you would travel to work, this for some may have only been walking to the car but it all counts. Set yourself as if you were going to work with a walk around the block before you start. It is now daylight earlier so there is no excuse - You may find it helps to set your brain up for the working day too. Adding a extra 500 steps
- Every two hours, do a lap of the garden or a couple of runs up the stairs while you wait for the kettle to boil can add another 1000 steps in the day
- Take a 15 minute walk in your lunch break for some fresh air and an extra 1000 steps
- Pacing when you are chatting on your mobile phone can add another 500 -1000 steps a day
- When you have finished for the day, set your brain to sometime by doing a walking lap around the block and notch up another 500 steps
- be inefficient with daily tasks to take 400 more steps - take cooking ingredients from cupboards one at a time, put away dried dishes as you dry them rather than at the end, take your laundry upstairs in two trips rather than one, set the dinner table bit by bit
- During the ad breaks on your favourite TV programme, get up and walk or even climb the stairs for 3 minutes. 4 advert breaks can add a further 1000 steps
- If you really want to add the steps up, now the evenings are getting lighter you could go for a 30-60 minute walk with family in the evening, making the most of the daylight as well as improving health. At weekends you can really boost the steps with a nature walk.
- Get an app and complete with friends and colleagues, you will be surprised how your steps step up when your competitiveness kicks in
To increase the benefits of walking even more, try interval walking, 30 seconds fast walking, followed by 1 minute normal / medium pace or walking fat to one lamppost and them normal to the next.
What are you waiting for - Get Walking!