Walking for Health
Science shows that spending less time sitting and more time walking, decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and some cancers. Walking is a great way to burn calories, increase stamina and boost muscle strength. So up your step count to increase your chance of a long and healthy life. Walking is a simple way to improve overall wellbeing and reduce the chances of developing the health concerns associated with inactivity. Long walks are a good way to build endurance and lower limb strength and short walks are the perfect form of active recovery after a tough workout.
Walking also increases the blood flow and the oxygen to the brain, which has been shown to stimulate the development of new brain cells, help people perform better on memory tests and increase concentration levels.
A study in the US reported that walking in a green setting such as a forest or a park, reduced negative thinking and deactivated areas of the brain linked to mental illness.
A study in California, found that brisk walking reduces the risk of heart disease more effectively than running. They observed participants aged between 18 and 80 over a six-year period and found that walking reduced the risk of heart disease by 9.3%, while running reduced it by 4.5%.
Data from research in the Netherlands showed that long period of mild activity, for instance walking around the shops, beat an hour of high intensity exercise when it came to improvements to insulin, cholesterol and lipid levels.
More than half the body’s muscles are designed for walking, it is a safe, low-impact exercise for almost everyone, including people who may be overweight or have a medical condition, such as arthritis. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week will make you feel better, you don’t have to do it all at once: you can break it up into three sessions of 10 minutes each. You will have more energy, and sleep better, according to a study by Oregon State University, research showed that walking helped participants sleep better and feel more alert during the day. When you walk, you carry your body weight, which helps to keep your bones strong. Walking briskly works your heart, so it helps to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
Many experts recommend 10,000 steps a day. It takes roughly 5,000 steps to walk a kilometre. In normal daily activity, most reasonably active people walk between 4,000 and 6,000 steps a day. If you’re reasonably active, you’ll need to come up with at least another 4,000 steps a day to reach 10,000. That’s almost a kilometre, or for somebody walking at a brisk pace, about a 30-minute walk! A pedometer can help you track how many steps you take in a day. The 10,000-step daily goal roughly equals the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommendations to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
Make walking part of your travel time by walking to work, getting off the bus a few stops early, or parking at the far end of the parking lot. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Recharge your batteries and get some fresh air and sunshine by walking during lunch or coffee breaks. It all adds up at the end of the day.
Walking is free and can be done almost anywhere, it comes naturally, you can walk at your own pace and on your own time. The only cost is a good pair of comfortable, supportive walking shoes.