A Walk in the Park
by Wendy on 19th December 2019
There is a popular form of exercise that is free, and which you can do almost anywhere without the need for specialist equipment. And you don’t need to sign up with expensive gyms or commit to a course of vigorous exercise classes, because walking for just 30 minutes a day can help you to improve your fitness levels and maintain a healthier lifestyle. A low-impact aerobic exercise, walking has been proven to strengthen the bones and muscles, reduce body fat, and improve cardiovascular fitness. It helps with blood circulation, too, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your organs. This simple exercise comes with a variety of health benefits. Walking can help you to:
- Reduce your risk of cancer, stroke, and/or heart disease
- Manage your diabetes
- Lose weight
- Sleep better
- Improve your muscle strength
- Strengthen your bones
- Manage your depression
- Improve your ‘good’ cholesterol levels and reduce the ‘bad’.
First, treat yourself to a comfortable pair of flat shoes or trainers with ample support for your arches. Then make sure you stretch, concentrating on the hamstrings and calves. Now, you’re ready to go for a walk. Be sure to start out slowly, easing yourself into your routine and increasing your pace and distance gradually.
Little and Often
You don’t have to take lengthy power-walks in order to feel the benefit. While you’re building up your routine, seize every opportunity to squeeze in a few steps —walk to the shops, instead of driving. Take the stairs rather than the lift. Park a little further away from your usual spot to give you that extra time on your feet.
Walking is generally safe, but as with any form of exercise, it makes sense to:
- Make sure you’re healthy enough to exercise, especially if you’re over 40 or overweight. If in doubt, consult your GP and/or chiropractor before undertaking any new exercise routine.
- Warm up by stretching first —and cool off towards the end of your walk by slowing down.
- Wear the right gear —loose, comfortable clothing and supportive footwear.
- Drink plenty of water before and after you exercise. If you are planning on a long walk, take a water bottle.
- Keep your wits about you. Stay focused, keeping your eyes ahead to avoid uneven surfaces and obstacles. Avoid distractions —don’t use your phone!
Regular walking has many physical advantages and can also improve your mental health, as it makes you feel good! If you can manage to walk five times a week for 30 minutes, you should start to feel the benefit.