National Walking Month
It’s May and this month the UK charity, Living Streets is trying to encourage more of us to walk our ways to a healthier and happier lifestyle. You will find lots of advice, help, resources and ideas on their website. So it’s a great time to think about how often you walk and how you can fit more walking into your day to day lives. Did you know that if you walk for just 30 minutes, 5 times a week you could be doing a great deal for you r overall fitness and health as well as burning 150 calories each time. In fact, to stay fit and healthy you should be doing around 10, 000 steps a day. How many do you think you are doing?
So what’s so good about walking?
- It’s cheap, easy and effective - everyone can do it! All you need are comfortable walking boots or trainers
- You can do it anywhere and all the family can get involved. You can easily do it at the weekends and on holiday too.
- Walking can make you fitter – a great way to start to improve your fitness
- It reduces stress and anxiety and may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
- It also reduces your risk of heart disease, stokes, high blood pressure, and of course obesity
So how can you make walking your route to fitness and health?
- Do it regularly. Try and find a regular time when you can easily fit a walk into your daily routine. Perhaps walk to or from work, or decide to walk every lunchtime. Or you could schedule your walk, putting it in your diary or on your calendar, you are much more likely to do it. Make a date with a friend so that you encourage each other not to put it off.
- Make sure you walk briskly. Unless you are using up lots of energy walking it’s not going to do much for your health and body. You should be walking more vigorously than you would normally walk around town – it is meant to be a workout after all! To ensure you are getting your heart working and your body burning fat, you should be walking fast enough to make you breath heavily and making it difficult, though not impossible to hold a conversation which should be at about four miles an hour, which is about the pace you’d walk if late for an appointment. So make sure you walk quickly and try to cover a lot of ground.
- If you start to walk regularly be careful not to ‘reward’ yourself with snacks or over-estimate how much you can eat because you are doing more exercise. A typical full-size energy bar is 300 calories and what you would burn up for a one hour walk. So don't use your walking workouts to justify eating more calories. You have to walk six miles to burn off a Big Mac!
- Try a pedometer. They are relatively inexpensive and can be very motivating as you try to beat your own targets. They also give you a better sense of just how much you are moving during a day. If are new to exercise, use the pedometer for a few days to gauge roughly how many steps you are doing each day. Then set yourself a target of an extra 2000 more steps a day. As you check your pedometer during the day, be conscious of looking for more opportunities to get your steps up. You should be aiming for around 10,000 steps most days of the week.
- Try to go on different walks. As with any form of exercise it is easy to get into a rut. Changing your routes not only keeps things interesting for you, it also challenges you as you include different terrains, hills, steps etc which helps to build muscle.
So slip on your trainers and get walking this week!