Walking has been described as the perfect exercise, and we completely agree. See below to find out how walking can help everyone live happier, healthier lives.
With walking, you don’t have to do a lot to reap the rewards.
The minimum recommendation from doctors to keep your body healthy and prevent illness such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes is 150 minutes of activity a week. So you could look at that as just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week – and you can break that down into chunks of ten or fifteen minutes at a time if you like.
Public Health England have produced an infographic based on the UK Chief Medical Officers recommend levels of physical activity guidelines which you can find here.
You don’t have to walk for a long time or at a brisk pace from day one. You can build up as you go. And it won’t be long before you start to see the benefits.
Walking can help to keep your mind and your social life healthy too, so why not make a start?
A good walk can do wonders for your mental well-being.
But it’s not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing.
It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed to recover.
In older people, staying active can improve cognitive function, memory, attention and processing speed, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
The physical improvements you gain by walking can help to improve your mental health too. If you feel fitter and feel in control of your weight, your body image and confidence can increase – so it’s not just the physical benefits that you’ll notice when you start walking.
Walk regularly. Invest in your long-term health now and you’ll see the difference that walking can make to your mind, your body and your social life. Walking in a group is a great way to get started and stay motivated, so…
Meet new people
Walking can be great for your social life – and knowing you have the support of people around you is a great way to start and keep going. You’ll make friends, encourage each other, develop a network of supportive fellow walkers and discover new walks in and around your area.
A little encouragement can go a long way, so why not get motivated by joining a walk near you? Health walks take place across the district and they’re for people who – like you – would rather have some company than walk alone.
Being physically active significantly reduces the risk of several major health conditions by between 20% and 60%, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, improves cholesterol levels, reduces blood pressure, builds healthy muscles and bones, improves balance and reduces the risk of falls.
Regular brisk walking improves the performance of your heart, lungs and circulation. It can also lower your blood pressure. And it can reduce your risk of strokes, as well as the UK’s biggest killer – heart disease.
A gentle pace
Even if you’re not ready to walk at a brisk pace, you can take your time and build up slowly. Walking at any pace will help you to manage your weight, reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of some cancers. (Inactive people are more likely to develop colon, breast and lung cancer than those who exercise.)
Walking will improve the flexibility and strength of your joints, muscles and bones too – and it’ll reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
We don’t always think of walking as exercise – perhaps because it’s so normal that we take it for granted. But walking is a great way to get active and prevent illness.