The Wonder of Walking
Walk you way to health -
The benefits of walking are often underestimated.....
As a nation we spend more and more time sitting on our bottoms and less and less time being active. We all know that we should be exercising for good health and weight management, but never seem to have the time and motivation to fit it in.
Exercising does not mean that we have to spend hours in the gym each day, we can just try to be more active day to day. A varied activity plan including different types of exercise is important but the first and easier step to take is to just be more active and walking more is a great way to do this..
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.
10,000 Steps to Health
The NHS recommends 150 minutes of weekly exercise so if you do 10,000 steps a day you will probably do more than 150 minutes which is great news.
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.
Or just do 20 minutes a day and you should be about there.
How do you increase your steps?
Due to cars and office jobs the average person only walks 3000 - 4000 steps a day 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:
- 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
- Even a short 15 minute walk with the dog can add up to a 1000 steps
- Walking the children to school rather than driving can add another 1000 - 3000 steps
- Walk the stairs at work rather than take the lift adds about 200 steps
- At work walk to speak with your colleagues rather than call - up to 500 steps a 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 get home at night before going into your house do one walking lap around the block and notch up another 300 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
- 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!