With the cold and busy period ahead it may become difficult to fit in your usual exercise regimen. Winter walks may just be the simplest way to stay active, as it improves circulation, mobility and balance, helps you lose weight, and even works to prevent osteoporosis. Don’t be put off by the cold weather just because it’s not sunny and warm outside doesn’t mean you should hibernate inside all winter or even restrict your exercise to the gym, walking outdoors in winter is extremely invigorating and almost meditative. Your personal trainer can help you to include some beneficial walking into your exercise regimen.
By walking regularly you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s great cardio exercise, lowering levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. A brisk 30-minute walk every day could help to prevent and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes. Also a regular walking habit can help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Walking helps you lose weight. Work that short walk into your daily routine and you’ll shed the pounds in no time. And while you are walking you are giving definition to calves, quads and hamstrings and by adding hill walking into the mix, it’s even more effective. Pay attention to your posture and you’ll also tone your abs and waist. Power-walking, keeping a brisk pace at moderate to high intensity, can burn the same amount of calories as jogging or running, so it is useful for helping with weight loss and as it is low impact, it does not have the same potential for injury as jogging and it can offer all the benefits.
Walking is also better for the spine than running, as it puts less stress on the discs. We are designed for constant movement, not sitting in cars or in front of computers, which causes negative pressures on our spinal cord. Regular walking is excellent for spinal discs, which receive minerals and vitamins through the pumping action it causes.
It is said that older people who walk six miles or more per week are more likely to avoid brain shrinkage and preserve memory as the years pass. Since dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80, this makes good sense.
By being outside we are getting our Vitamin D fix which we need for bone health and immune systems.
A brisk walk is one of the best natural energisers, it boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. Try walking on your lunch break to achieve more in the afternoon.
It also boosts your mood. Studies show that a brisk walk is just as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression, releasing feel-good endorphins while reducing stress and anxiety.
The key players in regular walking are our feet and we don’t always use them in the best way. Our feet were made for walking, it’s the best way of exercising the 50-odd muscles we have in our feet. Just like any other muscles in the body, you have to exercise them to keep them healthy and able to maintain their function. When you don’t exercise them, the muscles become weaker. The 26 bones within the foot, plus its ligaments, are exercised gently by walking, so they are not in danger of stress.
So do try to fit in some regular walks, especially with all the beautiful countryside we have here, it’s a shame to waste it.
- Make walking part of your journey to work
- Try walking to the shops
- Leave the car behind for short journeys
- Walk the children to school
- Try a regular walk with a friend