Just put one foot in front of the other and away you go ….. Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, brisk walking has the potential to build your stamina and make your heart healthier. Walking for health and fitness comes with hidden benefits often ignored and or under-estimated.
Walking is by far one of the easiest ways to get more active and healthier. It is more than just a great way to get around, it is an easy way to improve and maintain your overall health. You do not need to walk for hours, 30 minutes or more of brisk walking, on most days of the week, can maintain overall health.
Walking for health and fitness is low impact, is ideal for people of all age group and can be carried out at any time of the day at your very own pace. It is worth mentioning that, you need to seek medical advice prior to taking up a new fitness regime, especially if recovering from a recent injury, haven’t exercised in a long time, aged over 40 years or overweight.
Before Stepping Out…
- Ensure you are warmed up. Avoid setting off at a fast past without a proper warm-up as this reduces the risk of getting injured. The ideal way to warm up is to start walking slowly or leisurely and then pick up the pace when the muscles are nicely warmed up.
- Ensure your trainers are comfortable. Appropriate footwear is essential in providing support. This avoids blisters and shin splints.
- Ensure you have appropriate clothing. It is good practice to check the weather forecast before setting off. Your clothing should be appropriate for the day’s weather. You may want to invest in a waterproof jacket for the wet days. For the sunny days, you may want to have sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat to avoid sunburn.
- Ensure you are well hydrated. Take water with you in order to stay hydrated throughout the duration of the walk.
- Ensure you stay safe. Stay safe by choosing walks that suit your age, ability and fitness level. Also, look out for hazards by staying off cliff edges.
Benefits Of Walking For Health And Fitness
A weight-bearing exercise like walking has countless health benefits. A physical activity does not have to be carried out vigorously in order to improve and maintain health. You can easily get out for a walk without stressing or worrying about risks associated with some forms of vigorous exercise regimes. Some benefits associated with walking for health and fitness are listed below for your reading pleasure:
- Walking reduces blood pressure. Regular walking helps to keep the ‘silent killer’, high blood pressure, at bay. An increased amount of oxygen to the muscles is ideal for relaxing blood vessels. This can be achieved by regular walking, thereby lowering blood pressure.
- Walking can help to burn fat and lose weight. Regular walking at a brisk pace, can help the body to get rid of stored fat. This helps to maintain a healthy body weight by getting rid of excess body fat.
- Walking improves and maintains heart health. Making regular brisk walking a habit improves cardiovascular fitness. This habit lowers the risk of developing heart disease. Some studies also show that regular walking also helps people who have suffered heart attacks to recover faster.
- Walking can help to maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, makes up most of our body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL exposes us to heart disease and stroke. A simple walk within the neighbourhood has the potential to burn a lot of calories from our bodies. This helps to reduce LDL and increase good cholesterol, also known as HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein).
- Walking Promotes bone health and posture. The body’s bone loss can be slowed down through regular walking. Walking has the tendency to increase bone density. The legs, spine and hips benefit a lot from regular walking. This promotes stronger bones, improved posture and balance.
- Walking increases muscles strength and stamina. Developing a habit of walking regularly helps to improve your stamina and muscle strength. This also has the tendency to tone up your body by giving great definition to your hamstrings, calves and quads.
- Walking kills stress and improves sleep. Your mental well-being can be improved by staying active through regular walking. Walking kills stress and boosts your daytime energy. This promotes a deep, sound and longer sleep at night.
- Walking can improve sexual health. Your performance between the sheets can be improved by staying active through daily brisk walking. Good blood circulation is vital for sexual performance…….walking can help with this!
Make Walking A Habit
For someone who is not always active or just starting to adopt walking as part of your daily routine, walking for 30 minutes can sometimes be a challenge. There is no need to be discouraged……you can start with smaller walking sessions throughout the day and increase the duration as your fitness improves. Regular physical activity built into a healthy daily lifestyle is an effective way to promote weight loss and maintain a healthy body weight.
Making walking a habit is the way to go and it is easier than you can ever imagine. Ways to include walking into your daily routine include:
- Leaving your car behind for short journeys like going to the local shop or walking the kids to and from school.
- Using the staircase instead of the lift.
- Going for regular strolls with family or friends.
- Walking part of your journey to work or home. You can decide to get off public transport a stop earlier and continuing the rest of the journey on foot.
- Walk your dog or the neighbour’s.
- You can also decide to take a stroll after dinner with friends or family.
Make It Fun!
You just need to relax and enjoy walking. Listen to some music whiles out on a walk…… time really does fly when you are walking to your favourite music. Listening to music also takes your mind off the effort.
Mix up your walks as there are also interesting walks within towns and cities. Don’t just stick to the countryside. As they say, variety is the spice of life!
Just let yourself go and enjoy your walk to the fullest!