Are you ready boots? Start, walking!
Walking one mile, or for just 20 minutes a day1, can improve your long term health and mental wellbeing. A gentle walk can provide plenty of fresh air, help you to lose weight and get fit. Still need convincing? Here are some reasons why walking off into the horizon is a great idea:
You can walk even if you're not fit...
If you have a dodgy hip, a bad knee, are pregnant, recovering from surgery or illness. In fact, there are very few excuses for not getting out in the fresh air. Walking is low impact and can be tailored to suit your level of fitness. While 30
minutes of brisk walking a day is recommended, you might begin with 10 minutes of ambling, slowly building up your fitness as you go. Always walk at your own pace and listen to your body.
Walking for Health is a charity that promotes walking around the UK. They meet ramblers and share walking stories. After suffering from a stroke at the age of 71, Barbara2 joined her local Walking for Health group. She said: "I would encourage anyone who has health or mobility problems to join, the fresh air and companionship are wonderful therapy!"
Walking can aid recovery
According to a study, walking is the most popular activity for people taking days out in England3. There are a wealth of coastal walks, historic sights, rolling hills and dynamic terrain to ignite the
imagination and indulge the senses. It's not surprising that getting out into the fresh air can also give the mind some breathing space when life is overwhelming, or stressful. Flushing the senses with a burst of oxygen4 in a quiet, slow-paced environment will soothe anxiety and help to improve mental wellbeing.
Walking has been billed as 'the 30 minute miracle5' contributing to overall health, and cited as a good prevention tool for heart disease, cancer and diabetes later in life. Charities such as Macmillan and Ramblers are campaigning for walking to be prescribed as an on-going aid for those who are recovering from a serious illness1.
Just 150 minutes of activity per week keeps your body in tip top condition. What's more, you have an energised buzz that lasts well beyond the end of a ramble. So, if it's one long hike at the weekend, or a short journey everyday, remember that it doesn't take a lot of walking exertion to feel the benefit.
Walking can help weight loss
As well as burning excess calories, walking can build stamina, improve posture and give you a healthier heart. The NHS 10,000 Steps Challenge6 states that the average person walks around 3,000 to 4,000 steps a
day. By upping this to a brisk 10,000 you can burn about 440 calories. A pedometer that clips to your waistband or belt is a great idea for measuring every step you take. You may even take more steps than you think you do!
For extra motivation, find a walking partner or join a walking group. For inspiration if you walk alone, try the Lolo Treadmill app that matches the tempo of music to the pace of your feet. It can be tailored to walking, jogging or running.
Walking makes you feel good
The charity Mind advocates walking and ecotherapy as a stress release that can improve sleep quality, and help when suffering with depression. Ecotherapy aims to improve mental wellbeing through involvement with nature. This can be through
conservation projects, farming, or experiencing nature on a wild walk or cycle7.
These outdoor and gentle physical activities cause the brain to release mood enhancing endorphins that provide a natural high and encourage a more positive outlook8.
Research reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that walking 30 minutes each day helped to boost the mood of patients suffering from depression faster than over the counter medicines.
Top tips to get the most out of your walk
Set a time and stick to it, no matter what the weather. Consistency is the key if you want to see results.
Go at your own pace. If you push yourself too hard at the beginning you may injure yourself and give up.
Use intervals. If brisk walking feels too uncomfortable, build up to it by exercising hard for 30 seconds interspersed with two minutes at a more relaxed pace.
Walk four times a week. Little and often is best if you want to keep your heart rate up and lose weight.
Enjoy yourself. If you make it fun with company, music or inspiring scenery, you're more likely to make it a permanent part of your life!