In aid of National Walking Month this May, Vida has put together a short list of how walking can help and why it’s beneficial for you!
There are many ways to stay healthy, and knowingly some are more popular than others. Walking on the other hand, is an underrated yet equally rewarding form of exercise that can be easily scheduled around your daily activities.
So why is walking good for you? Anyone can do it at any age and it doesn’t cost anything! You can wear everyday clothes, just need a good pair of shoes to help you start off and you can be off taking a walk while listening to music or a podcast. By leaving your car at home, you’re helping to reduce pollution, traffic jams and ultimately, fight climate change. It allows you to connect with your friends and neighbours out on the street, allowing communities to come together.
Being active helps you stay a healthy weight and improves balance, subsequently reducing the risk of falls. Keeping active can support us to feel both healthy and happy. Research has shown that people that stay active get less stressed, sleep better and keep their minds sharp.
Apart from general benefits to your mind – including clearing your head, uplifting your mood and providing a change of scene – walking has many other advantages.
There have been several studies that have shown that physical inactivity has been associated with a large number of conditions, including increasing your chances of developing cancer, heart disease or having a stroke by 25-30%. In fact, there is strong evidence that being active reduces the risk of death by 20-35%.
6 Ways To Get Started:
- The recommended weekly amount of exercise for adults is 150 minutes, translating to 30 minutes of exercise over five days a week. It would be wise to first start with three shorter ten minute walks daily, slowly building to half an hour once you feel comfortable.
- A good walking technique is vital, and this is only achievable by engaging your core muscles. This is important in walking because you are upright the time you are out and about, supporting your entire body weight. Spinal alignment is essential, and you should try to stand up straight, without leaning too far forward or backward, with your chin parallel to the ground.
- Getting the right footwear is vital. You want a flexible sole that will move with your foot, and footwear that is lightweight and breathable. Most specialist walking shoes now incorporate an Achilles notch that helps relieve stress on the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the human body that runs along the back of the leg. It is commonly inflamed or injured in athletes during training and even by wearing high heels regularly.
- Create a routine of at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, changing your walking route ever so often to keep you motivated. Your local town and city can offer exciting walks including parks, heritage trails and woodlands. You can use an app called walkit.com to create an urban walking route planner if you live in a city. To plan walking routes in both urban and suburban areas, hikideas.co.uk is a useful tool.
- If you prefer to walk with friends or in a group, you can turn to your local support groups or join dedicated walking groups set up by Britain On Foot and the Ramblers. Walking For Health has the largest network of health walk schemes, and regularly organises weekly walks across the country.
- If goals motivate you, download a tracking app on your smartphone so you can keep track of how much and how fast you’ve walked. It can give you a purpose to work towards and to reward your progress. Fitness trackers are beneficial for this reason, or simple pedometers and a pencil and paper to track your progress.
- Before you start, make sure to warm up well by walking slowly for five-ten minutes to prepare your body for exercise. Cooling down is as equally as important, so at the end of your trip, walk slowly for five-ten minutes to help your muscles cool down.
National Walking Month is nation-wide campaign held every May, spearheaded by a charity called Living Streets. During this month, they are running a Walk to School Walk with pupils, teachers and parents taking part in their five-day walking challenge. You can also walk to fundraise for charities such as the British Heart Foundation. Please refer to your favourite charity for details.