What are the benefits of walking?
Walking is a cardiovascular and aerobic activity, which means it increases your heart rate which in turn improves blood flow and can lower blood pressure. It also allows for the release of endorphins (happy hormones). Other benefits include: reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, prevents type 2 diabetes, improves stress levels and depression, builds and maintains strong bones, improves perceived sleep quality, improves muscular endurance and energy levels.
How much should we walk?
Often, we hear the magical 10,000 steps but there is no exact science to support this. The science does however show the more steps the better, so any walking that you can fit into your busy schedule is beneficial hence the advice to “move more and sit less”.
We all have busy days, but even a brisk 10-minute daily walk has many health benefits. This can also count towards the recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
How fast should we walk?
Brisk walking is considered a moderate-intensity and low-impact activity which does not put too much excess strain on our joints. A brisk walk is about 3 miles per hour and you can tell if you are walking briskly if you can still talk but not sing a song.
A study found, the faster we walk, the greater the reduction in blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. But don’t worry about becoming the next speed walker, walk within your limits!
How do I stay motivated to walk frequently?
- Make it part of your routine e.g. walking to/from work, straight after work or in a lunch break.
- Use the stairs and not the lift.
- Don’t use the car for short journeys, a certain radius from your house.
- Listen to music or a podcast whilst walking.
- Join a walking group.
- Use the Active 10 app which can be downloaded from the NHS website or app store on your phone. This will track how much you have walked and how fast. It can also give you goals and rewards your achievements.
By Jennifer Barr