Walking – the unsung hero of good health – for our bodies – and our minds. Walking improves our mood, raises our self-esteem, has been shown to alleviate depression and anxiety and aids quality sleep! It requires no special equipment, you can do as much or as little as you want, it can be brilliantly social and it’s free – in fact it can save you money. Where do you want to go – why not walk?
To get the maximum health benefits from walking a “brisk” pace is recommended. Brisk will mean different things to different people but it’s important to find a pace that you can maintain; you should feel yourself getting warmer and your heart rate rise. If you’re not used to walking – start with 10 minute walks and gradually increase to 30 minutes a day. Walking is the easiest exercise to incorporate into your day and an easy habit to acquire. And fitness-wise don’t assume it’s the poor relation to running – a study at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California found over a period of 6 years that their brisk walkers’ risk of heart disease reduced by 9.3% while for the runners it was 4.5%.
And be mindful when you walk – of your posture, the muscles you are using and of course your environment. Vary your routes and, if you can, include some green open spaces. There is a huge network of groups for longer walks and they are very easy to find – or you could even start one yourself. Try walkers.meetup.com, or www.ramblers.org.uk
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