We hear an awful lot about exercise regimens, workout plans, HIIT classes and running BUT we don’t often hear about walking and as it is National Walking Month I want to talk about exactly why walking is underrated – it is brilliant especially at this time of the year!
Walking is a great way to maintain our overall health, to boost your mood and tick off that exercise goal of the day. It can help increase cardiovascular fitness, improve bone health, maintain a healthy weight and has no end of mental health benefits. It also helps with our sleep patterns which in turn improves immunity etc.
Also, unlike some other forms of exercise, walking is completely free, low impact, doesn’t require any equipment at all and you can get started right away, no matter your fitness level. It is great to build up our muscle endurance too for our other sports/fitness regimes.
So how much walking do you need to do to unlock some of these benefits?
To get the health benefits, try to walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. If you can include some hills in your walks then this really is a great addition for your legs workout.
Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but if you have a medical condition, please always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise programme of physical activity.
If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) 3 times per day and gradually build up to longer sessions.
Here are some of my suggestions on how to build walking into your daily routine include:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift (for at least part of the way).
- Get off public transport one stop earlier and walk to work or home.
- Walk (don’t drive) to the local shops.
- Walk the dog (or your neighbour’s dog).
- Some people find that keeping an activity diary or log also makes it easier.
- A pedometer measures the number of steps you take. You can measure your movement throughout a day and compare it to other days or recommended amounts. This may motivate you to move more.
Mix it up!
Our bodies tend to get used to physical activity, so continue to increase your intensity as you improve your fitness levels. You can increase the intensity of your walks by:
- walking up hills
- walking with hand weights or with a back pack?
- increasing your walking speed gradually by including some quick walking at intervals
- increasing the distance you walk quickly before returning to a moderate walking pace
- walking for longer periods of time
Go with a friend! Walking with other people can turn a bout of exercise into an enjoyable social occasion. Why not schedule a regular family walk – this is a great way to pass on healthy habits to your children or grandchildren, and to spend time together, while getting fit at the same time. It is also a brilliant way to catch up with friends – so I say get out there and give it a go, make it that healthy daily habit that you really love!
My workouts are 4 times a week for just 30 minutes. They are interval strength training circuits which work different muscle groups and challenge the body – they give the perfect mix of strength and cardio for the best results.
The online workouts are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (they are all recorded and available to you within an hour of the session if you can’t make them live). Classes have been specifically designed to suit all fitness levels and create fitness habits which last & which produce results.
Any questions as always please do get in touch!