• Is Walking Good For You?

    Woman Walking Woods Sunshine Trainers

    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.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Adventure Trekking & Hiking

    Sarah Outen MBE Adventurer

    Trekking and hiking are not widely talked about in gym circles or running groups. Yet they are great ways of keeping fit, as well as being specialised and adventurous. Trekking differs from walking in that trekkers tend to go further afield and test their endurance; it takes walking to the next level. Hiking involves climbing mountains, which is great for building strength and stamina in the legs.

    Exploring new trails, new countries, and unknown areas can really lift your sense of adventure. Trekking is something that really challenges you physically and mentally. It will give you an adrenaline rush, as well as these other benefits:

    Benefits of Adventure Trekking & Hiking

    1) It is a whole body workout - A major plus in trekking is that it will give your entire body a workout. You continually use and build your overall body strength. You move your legs, your arms, you climb, wade and stretch all the time. Whether it is climbing a hill or crossing a lake, you need to use your entire body, and the fun thing is, you won’t even be aware you are doing it.

    2) It helps with joint problems - Trekking does require stamina, so build it up slowly, allowing yourself the chance to get used to it. It builds muscles in your arms and legs, which in turn will help joints which were once stiff or painful. If you do suffer from a long term joint complaint, please do seek medical advice before embarking on an adventure holiday that involves trekking.

    3) It is a stress buster - You can trek anywhere in the world. An adventure holiday that involves trekking, will take you to some of the most beautiful places on the planet. Getting outdoors will help you reconnect with nature and give you the chance to immerse yourself in it. Just taking in the world around you can help you forget the stress of everyday life.

    4) You will meet new people - If you trek at home or abroad, you will meet new people. People trek all over the world and it is a great opportunity to have a cultural exchange. Crossing language barriers and sharing an experience is a wonderful experience for all involved.

    Hectic modern lifestyles can really stress us out and we can forget how to relax. Something like trekking can help lift our mood, as well as our fitness, the long term benefits are immeasurable. If you are thinking about a holiday experience for next year, then why not pack your walking shoes and see where you can end up?

    Interesting to find out more? Have a read of our interview with Sundried ambassador Sarah Outen MBE who is a professional adventurer!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • 5 Of The Best Exercises That Don't Involve A Gym

    Stretching Workout Gym Photoshoot Fitness Model

    Not everyone is an athlete or even a serious exerciser, but want to work out in order to improve fitness or health. Gyms can be overwhelming and off-putting.

    You might be surprised to know that some of the best exercises we can do don't require a gym at all! Our list shows just what you can do without a gym, they will help you get fitter, improve your balance and movement range, along with many more health benefits.

    It doesn't matter how old you are or what level your fitness is at, these exercises are aimed at everyone.

    1) Yoga - yoga is brilliant to help reduce stress and improve flexibility. It is made up of movements that flow into each other and classes come in all levels of ability, from beginner to advanced. There are lots of classes commonly available, or some great videos online, if classes aren't your thing. 

    2) Swimming - Has been called the “perfect” workout. The water helps support your body and takes a lot of strain off of your joints. Swimming is brilliant for improving your mood, as well as burning calories. Either go for a few lengths at your own pace or go all out in a water aerobics class.

    3) Walking - As we have written about before, the benefits of walking are massive. It is free for a start, but improves cholesterol levels, makes bones stronger and lifts your mood. Good shoes and a pace you can have a conversation at, are all you need.

    4) Strength training - Basically, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Strength training can be done without bulking up, it is just about improving the muscle you already have and keeping them strong. Be sure to lift properly and start light. You should be able to do around 10 reps easily, so if you feel you are straining, go for lighter weights. After a week or two lift something a little heavier.

    5) Kegel exercises - Ok, so these won’t help you look better, but they will strengthen your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder. Many women become aware of these during pregnancy and make the habit of exercising them. Men, not so much, but the benefits are equal. Simply squeeze the muscles you squeeze when you are needing the toilet, hold for 10 seconds and then release. Work up to 3 sets of 10 a day. 

    If you do any of these activities and have an aerobic workout for at least 30 minutes a day, you can call yourself an active person. It doesn't have to involve a gym, it just has to involve you.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren