In an age where most of us jump in the car to buy a pint of milk introducing the basic principle of walking to our every day routine might seem a little alien.
Obesity rates are at an all time high and all we need to do is make a slight adaptation to our daily life to include the government recommended 30minutes of daily activity to keep our hearts healthy. This does not have to be one continuous burst of activity – you can break it down into more manageable chunks.
Recently we have seen the introduction of ‘Walk to School’ in some of our local schools as there is concern that children are not getting sufficient physical activity. Mums are being asked to walk with their children, if not the whole way, at least part of the way to school – and back. To enable this to happen it has probably meant that mum (and dad) have had to get up half an hour earlier to allow for the time it will take to do the walk. It may be slow on the way to
school, but Mum, or Dad, can increase the pace on the return leg and get the full effect of aerobic exercise.
Workplaces have also taken the initiative on board. May 14 to 18 was Walk to Work week. Employers are seeing the added value of encouraging their employees to either walk part of the way to work, or encouraging them to have regular breaks from their desks and to at least get outside for part of their lunchbreaks are are encouraging the minimum ’30 minutes daily activity for a healthy heart. They see that it improves their wellbeing which in return increases productivity leading to a reduction in absenteeism. Not only this it adds to the company Corporate Social Responsibility and may also improve their sustainability and ‘green’ carbon footprint. Walking can be fun, a great moral booster and is inclusive to all as pace is irrelevant to gain these benefits.
Reduced resting heart rate; decreased risk of heart attack; lowered blood pressure; reduced risk of hardening of the arteries; increased lung function and
capacity; reduced body fat content; improved muscle tone; improved resistance to fatigue; improved general appearance.
The psychological benefits are just as important:
Improved self-image, self-esteem & self-confidence; increased personal satisfaction; reduced strain and stress; improved ability to relax; improved mental
Aerobic exercise – what does it mean? It can be defined as an activity which increases the body’s demand for oxygen over an extended period of time and provides energy at the same rate it is used.
What is that preferred energy source? Good news, for low intensity continuous exercise – walking, jogging, swimming, cycling etc the body relies on fats for energy maintenance. So walking is an excellent way to start shaping your body.
Walking is inexpensive and simple to progress with. It will improve lower body tone and is a ‘fat burner’. It allows you to get outside, alone or with friends, so is either great as ‘me time’, or adds to your social circle. Walking is flexible – it can fit around you. Walking is fun.
What equipment do I need to walk? The great news is that you really don’t require specialist equipment, but to make the most of your walking perhaps consider the following :
Comfortable shoes or trainers – suitable for the terrain you choose to walk on
Carry a bottle of water to drink
Wear weather appropriate clothing – remembering that if fingers and toes get cold your core temperature will drop
The ‘average’ person will burn approximately 100 kcal per mile walked. It may not sound like a lot, but the more you
walk, the more you burn off those ‘treats’ that you have allowed yourself.
Use a pedometer to keep a daily record of how many steps you take and aim to increase by 10% per week in distance or intensity. An average mile is 2000 steps; (range 1900 to 2400 dependent on stride length).
Take the step today and start to think about how to leave the car, bus or train at home and get out for a walk in your village, town and its beautiful surrounding countryside.
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