Monday, 31 December 2012

Get Walking.

People tend to dismiss walking as an inferior exercise which won't achieve anything.  People who haven't exercised before seem to view walking as too low-tech, thinking that they need to join a gym in order to get results.  People who exercise regularly and particularly runners, just see walking as too slow and of no benefit to their fitness regime.

I disagree.  Walking is a fantastic exercise.  It is accessible, inexpensive and you can do it within your everyday life - meaning it can and will become a habit (unlike gym membership which tends to lapse come March!).

The health benefits of walking include reduced incidence of:  Coronary Heart Disease and stroke; some types of cancers; and, type 2 diabetes.  Walking will improve muscoskeletal health (oesteoathritis and lower back pain). It can also improve mental health, happiness and well-being.

These are all benefits of any type of regular exercise.  The joy of walking is that it is easy to make it a regular part of your life.  Walk to the shops, walk to work, get of the bus one stop earlier and walk home, walk with a friend and catch up on that chat (instead of a cup of tea and a cake!), loads of ways just to fit walking in.

So, if you are new to exercise consider taking up walking.  Doing it often is key - at least 30mins per day, 5 days per week is optimum but start with ten minutes, 3 times per week and build up to it from there. 

If you are a regular exerciser and still can't see what benefit walking will be to you, try these ideas:

1. Try interval training - walk fast (or run) for 1 min, walk steady for 1 min, repeat 5-10 times
2. Walk up a hill - hill walking works different muscles and gets your heart and lungs working hard.
3.  Try a timed distance - e.g. walk a 3 mile route and try and beat your time next week
4. Walk up a steep hill with a weighted backpack - fantastic training for legs and bottom- great for runners to strengthen up your quadriceps and glutes.
5.  Rest days - regular exercisers need rest days - runners can walk on rest days which helps keep muscles supple and aids recovery.

So, don't dismiss walking.  Regular, consistent walking where you feel slightly warm and slightly out of breath will benefit your physical and your mental health.  Get walking.

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