Pledging to get fit doesn't have to involved hours of running or tough gym workouts. We take a look at answering the question 'is walking good for you?'
Is walking good for you?
It has been found that undertaking a brisk walk in order to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of activity each week could reduce the number of cases of Type 2 Diabetes by a staggering 300,000.
Here are 5 great reasons why walking is good for you:
1) It is good for lowering your risk of various diseases. In short, regular walking cuts the risk of type two diabetes by up to 60%, it also reduces your risk of colon and breast cancer (although these can be reduced with other exercises too).
2) It helps you lose weight. This is a given with any exercise. However walking is something that most people can do, and it is free. It burns calories, and the faster you walk, the more you burn. Walk to work, or walk at lunchtime and you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference.
3) It is good for your heart. All cardio exercise reduces the bad cholesterol, whilst increasing the levels of good cholesterol. Walking up to 30 minutes a day at a good pace can help control, and prevent, high blood pressure and reduce your risk by up to 27%. (Source: The Stroke Association)
4) Tone your lower body. Walking is a brilliant workout for your legs and you will gain definition on your thighs and calves. Throw some hills into your walk for a workout that is more challenging.
5) It gives you an energy and vitamin D boost. Getting outside, even in the winter, will help give your Vit D levels a helping hand. You will also notice that your energy levels start to pick up. Your circulation improves, increasing oxygen levels, which in turn helps you feel more alert.
What do you need?
Nothing in particular. That is the joy of walking. A good pair of walking shoes can be bought if needed, but otherwise, any comfortable pair will do. Clothing wise, again, anything comfortable will suffice. If you take it up as a serious hobby, then you can get more specialist equipment. But to start with, just work with what you have. There are pedometers you can buy to keep track of steps, and plenty of free apps that can do this too.
How do I start?
Take your time and start slowly. Build up your regime over time, bearing in mind that to get the benefits listed above, you do have to have a moderate intensity workout, meaning you have to walk fast enough to raise your heart beat.
Walk fast for a couple of minutes to begin with, then enjoy the rest of your first walk. Walk every day if you can, increasing the intensity each time by upping your pace and keep going for as long as you can. Don't worry about reducing your speed, and increasing it again, this is fine too. Stretch it out at the end, to ensure your muscles don't become too stiff. Aim for 10,000 steps every day.
You can get in the habit easily and quickly. Walk to work, take the stairs, walk to the shops and so on. Just make the decision to leave the car at home more often and you will be giving your body a treat. You may even discover bits of your town or city that you never knew existed or join a walking group. Let your inner adventurer out to explore whilst you walk.