Some of you may be old enough to remember the old ads on TV that ran to the theme tune of “Go walking, it’s good for you, Go walking, it’s what to do” and as kids or young adults we used to laugh at the silliness of the image and the general lack luster performance of the actors and singers but what we didn’t pick up on was the importance of that simple message. Go walking, because it is good for you.
With the latest craze of counting steps and focusing on getting active we wanted to discuss just how good walking g is for you and why we should all be waking more.
As many of you will be aware we live in a global society these days where 90% of our time is spent in a sedentary fashion. Be that in the office, on the sofa, driving around in your car or just chilling with friends. We spend a lot of time resting and very little time moving. Now some of you will have read the article on this site titled sitting is the new smoking and if you haven’t it is well worth a read along side this one as it ties the whole message together nicely:
Here’s the link:
On the subject of walking though it has been shown time and time again that movement especially involving good posture and fresh air can be extremely beneficial to your health and general wellbeing. And as far as no instructions needed activity goes, waking is right up there. Almost anyone can get of the sofa and go for a walk and it is a sure fire way to get active today.
So how does it help us?
- Weight loss: this is a big goal for many of us and walking is one simple and effective way to start your journey. Not only is it free, just pull on your shoes and go, but it is easy and requires no significant fitness levels to do. So it is very beginner friendly and it can be done in groups or as a pair allowing you to exercise and catch up with friends and loved ones. A typical hours walk will burn up to 200 calories or more and help your heart and lungs in the process.
- Reduce Stress: getting moving with something like a walk is a great way to leave the problems and stresses of everyday life behind you and get into a more positive mindset. No matter if you are out in the fresh air or walking on a treadmill the very action of walking and breathing and moving your body is a great way to destress and unwind mentally. Focusing on the path and your breathing and dropping the baggage of the day so far.
- Aid digestion: the increased blood flow, and the increased metabolic demands of a body in motion will help your digestion and this increase your absorption of many vitamins and minerals from your food that will help to boost your energy, mood and most importantly your health.
- Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia: increased exercise and blood flow to the brain will help to maintain proper function and allow for proper nutrient transfer between the body and brain. It also helps to relive stress and boost mental activity further helping to prevent the onset of many neurological diseases.
- Improve creativity: getting fresh air and blood flow will allow you to get creative. The brain and body working together in a controlled steady way allows you to think more clearly, make decisions and improve your creativity. So if you are stuck in a rut, or suffering from writers block grab your shoes and get walking.
- Improve Mobility: this is especially important when we link the inactivity or growing elderly population issues to exercise. With age and inactivity comes stiffness and getting out on the paths with a nice steady pace and good posture can have huge benefits for us all. Especially if you find you suffer from stiff hips, a sore back or just general mobility issues. A long walk a few days a week can make all the difference.
- Low impact: suffering from an injury or just carrying extra weight and running or other high intensity exercises have been ruled out for the time being? Then walking is the answer. Just get up and go. It is a safe and effective way to get moving again and with all of the other benefits why wouldn’t you want to get going.
Also if you are spending time walking in nature rather than just along the footpaths of your local neighbourhood you can also get benefits such as:
- Increased stress reduction: Exercising in the fresh air with the sounds of nature in your ears, bird song, waves, the wind through the leaves, all of this is proven to help reduce stress levels. Hence why so many stress reducing classes and playlists contain natural songs such as birdsong, whale song, thunderstorms and so on. Combine this with the already stress reducing effects of exercise and walking in the forests or along the coast will help significantly reduce your stress levels.
- Increased vitamin D levels: Getting some sunlight is always a good thing, so getting out and about on a nice walk is the perfect combination. Soak up some health boosting vitamin D and at the same time burn some calories and reduce your stress. Now that is a trio that I wouldn’t want to waste.
How often / long / fast should you walk?
I would recommend a minimum of 3 long walks per week. And try to make them outdoors if you can. As for length start small and build it up, aim for 30 mins or more each time. Speed, that’ up to you, the faster you go the more calories you will burn, but the other benefits will all be the same as long as you are up and moving.