HEALTHPLAN MAGAZINE

Walking Daily For Better Health Health Tips

According to scientific research, walking for just 30 minutes each day can help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by up to 31%.

Numerous scientific studies have shown that walking is not only one of the cheapest and most accessible forms of exercise available, it's also one of the most effective in maintaining a healthy heart.

Walking is an excellent way of improving our general health and fitness and is easy to integrate into our everyday lives.

The big bonus of living here in Spain is that the glorious year-round weather gives us the opportunity we need to get outside more and exercise in the sun. After all, nobody likes exercising in the rain.

If you work locally and not too far from home, why not avoid stressful traffic jams or crowded public transport and walk to the office instead?

So what are the health benefits of walking?

Some of the main advantages of walking are that it takes no prior training, there is no requirement to purchase any special equipment and it can be done at any time of the day at your own pace.

Most people underestimate the full benefits that a brisk walk can have on our health.

Studies have shown that for those who do little or no exercise, walking briskly for half an hour most days of the week, can go a long way in improving their health and fitness levels.

Other than regular walking there are always other opportunities throughout the day to walk more. For example, getting off the bus a couple of stops early means you are walking more.

Taking the stairs instead of jumping in the lift or taking the escalators is another easy way of working towards achieving the recommended 10,000 steps per day which are required to see health improvements.

There is evidence to show that walking regularly helps to prevent osteoporosis, reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and may ward off certain forms of cancer.

Walking is considered to be a ‘weight-bearing’ exercise as we have to carry our own body weight. Because of this, it helps produce stronger bones and improves balance and muscle strength.

Other long-term benefits of walking include the ability to manage chronic health conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and reduce high cholesterol levels.

Other health benefits can be seen a lot quicker such as:-

  • A reduction in stress levels
  • You should enjoy a better night’s sleep
  • You will feel better
  • It will help with weight loss
  • You will reduce your risk factors for many common illnesses
  • You will become more at one with your environment and local community

Tips for walking

There are a number of ways to make your walk more enjoyable and comfortable so that you can obtain the greatest benefit.

  • Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast before setting out so you have plenty of energy.
  • Prior to setting off, do a couple of minutes of gentle stretching to help avoid body stiffness, tone your muscles and lose body fat.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that allow your feet to breath and absorb the impact of your feet on the ground.
  • Wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing that you can easily change in and out of if walking to the office.
  • If you are going to work, use a backpack to carry your work clothes, shoes and other items. Make sure that the weight is evenly distributed.
  • Carry a bottle of water so that you stay hydrated during your walk.
  • Plan an accessible route which has an even surface. Parks are also ideal to help you get back to nature and distress.
  • Walk briskly in order to obtain the most benefit. You should be puffing slightly.
  • Get a dog. You will both need regular exercise and can do so together!
  • Find a friend to walk with or join a local walking club.

You don't need to do a 30-minute walk in one go. It's fine to break your walks up into three rounds of 10 minutes while you develop your fitness and stamina levels.

Walking faster burns more calories than walking slowly, however, this doesn’t mean you need to push yourself until you are breathless.

A good guide is that you can speak while you are walking. This simple rule of thumb means that you will be walking safely within your target heart rate.

Pace yourself and build-up slowly so that over time you gradually increase the intensity of your walks. You can increase the intensity by walking up hills, using light hand weights, increasing the speed that you walk and walking longer or over a further distance.

Sources

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/walking-for-good-health

Disclaimer: Any information contained within this article is for your guidance only and must not be used for the basis of any self-diagnosis. In all instances, you are advised to speak to your GP or healthcare professional immediately if you are concerned about your health or intend to embark on a new health program.