In celebration of #WalkThisMay let's look at the health benefits of walking the walk !
It’s National Walking Month, so we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate one of our favourite forms of exercise. We love walking ! It’s such a natural activity, and you don’t need any training or special equipment.
Here are some of the benefits of walking and some general advice to get you started
Walking is FREE !
One of the biggest benefits of walking is that it’s completely free. You don’t need to join the gym or a club to do it (although you can if you want to). If you’re going to venture to your local country park, it might involve some petrol and parking costs, but you can just as easily walk from your front door.
You also don’t need any special kit. As long as you’ve got some decent shoes, you’re all set. Depending on the terrain, you might like some walking poles, but they’re not essential.
It's flexible to fit into your life.
Walking is entirely flexible so that you can fit it into your daily life. For example, you can walk instead of taking the car or get off the bus stop a couple of stops early. Walking the kids to school is healthy for both of you and gives you an opportunity for a catch-up. If you have elderly or busy neighbours with a dog, you can walk it for them, and it helps them.
What’s more, you don’t need to find a team, a partner or a particular venue. You can’t play tennis on your own, but you can go for a walk.
" Walking has great benefits for our physical and mental health "
It's great for your mental health
We all have bits of our daily lives that challenge our mental well-being. Simply being outside in the fresh air helps. You might feel lonely or isolated or long for a bit of peace and quiet in your busy life. Walking can help with both. You can join a local group and meet new people, or put your earphones in and head out alone with just some music or a podcast for company.
Take the dog, and you’ll have company that doesn’t need conversation, although people will stop and talk to you if they see you.
Anyone can do it.
Anyone can go for a walk as it’s a pattern your body recognises. No special training required. It doesn’t matter if you want to go for a fast stomp or an amble; you can walk even if you feel stiff. You can choose where you want to go and if you prefer a flat, smooth path or prefer to power up a hill.
Walking is also suitable for all ages. You’re unlikely to head off for a 10k run after your Sunday dinner, but everyone can join in on a family walk.
The health benefits
We wouldn’t be encouraging you to go out for a walk if it didn’t have lots of health benefits. It’s great if you have a heart condition or respiratory problems. It strengthens your bones and joints, and it can lower your blood pressure and ward off type 2 diabetes.
The risk of injury is also very low unless you take it to extremes, so you can walk even if you have health concerns or are coming back from an injury..
How to get started
The great thing about walking is that you can start simply by stepping outside. However, if you have any health issues or haven’t been active in a while, it’s vital to build up gradually. Start with a short walk and see how you feel. If you have a circulatory disorder, aim for frequent short walks.
Remember that if you walk in a straight line away from home, you’ll also need to get back. A circular route can be ideal. Alternatively, make sure you know where the nearest bus stop is or have someone on standby to call for a lift home if you need it. Build up at your own pace. Even going one lamppost further than you did last time is progress. Most of all, be kind to yourself; walking is meant to be enjoyable!
Walking is a great activity accessible to everyone and can fit into your daily life easily. What’s more, it’s free! So if you want to improve your health and well-being, start taking yourself for a walk, and you’ll soon feel the benefits.