Thursday, 2 April 2020

Walk your way to good health

Because it’s something that we do on a daily basis without giving it much thought, and let's face it, we don’t always break into a sweat, many people often overlook walking as a form of aerobic exercise. But walking has many health benefits and is an excellent way to keep both our mind and body in shape.

For most of us, walking is a simple form of aerobic exercise that we can incorporate into our daily routine. Unlike more rigorous exercise such as running, gym sessions or competitive sports, walking rarely poses a risk of injury and it can be much more enjoyable than an intense workout.


Walking is in the news at the moment because it is one of the UK Government's suggested methods of taking some daily exercise and it's easy to do alone or in family groups, with little equipment, and direct from our front door.

Health benefits of walking

There are many health benefits of walking that not only improve our physical fitness, but also our mental wellbeing.
  • Walking reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Walking lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Walking reduces the risk of diabetes.
  • Walking helps protect us against dementia.
  • Walking helps fight obesity.
  • The release of endorphins during aerobic exercise can lift our mood (especially when we walk among nature), which helps to combat stress, anxiety and depression. These benefits are outlined in an article published in the Primary Care Companion Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
  • Walking improves our memory. In this article by The Guardian, Amy Fleming talks to neuroscientist, Shane O’Mara, about how walking benefits the cognitive functions of the brain.

Just 30 minutes of moderate walking every day can make a huge difference to our overall wellbeing and health. You might think that is a lot of time to squeeze into a normal busy day, but when everything is back to normal, the corona virus lockdown has ended, and your busy schedule resumes, you can break it down into small chunks, say ten minutes three times a day, you’ll be surprised at how easily you can keep walking and increase your step count. By making small changes in your routine, the time spent walking will soon increase, and it will become a habit that you won’t want to live without.

There are lots of ways you can introduce walking into your day-to-day life and, before you know it, it will have become second nature.

Ways to increase your step count

Please note that many of these options assume a normal level of freedom and we are not suggesting that anyone goes against the current lockdown situation, we are simply listing the options for when things return to normal.

  • Walk to work, or if it is too far, get off the bus a stop earlier or park the car further away and walk the rest of the way. 
  • Walk to the shops if you’re only buying a few items.
  • Choose the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Take a lunchtime stroll. The fresh air will make you feel great, too!
  • Go and explore local parks, nature trails, canal paths and woodlands. You’ll be surprised at what small adventures you can enjoy so close to home when you go on foot.
  • Visit new cities and towns and walk around the local area as well as the shops. 
  • Invest in a treadmill or use one at the local gym 
  • Join a walking group and climb hills or ramble through national parks. 

Walk4Life is a fantastic resource that encourages you to walk more. On the website you’ll find places to walk, maps, walking challenges and walking groups. Not only will you be improving your mental and physical health, you could make lots of new friends, too!

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