A walk a day… | Action Medical Research

Touching Lives - March 2009

A walk a day…

##What doesn’t walking do for you?

Walking is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise for overall fitness and wellbeing. It improves your cardiovascular fitness (your heart and lungs) and works many of the muscles in your lower body. While walking is a form of weight-bearing exercise, which can improve bone density, it is also low impact which means it is gentle on your joints. Walking can also help reduce stress and even help you to sleep better.

##Stepping out

If you don’t have time to go for walks purely for exercise, think about how you can incorporate walking in your existing routine. Can you walk to work, walk the kids to school, walk to a bus stop that’s further away or get off one stop earlier? Could you walk to the shops instead of driving or go for a walk in your lunch hour? The more convenient you make your walks the more likely you are to take them regularly, which is when you will begin to reap the health rewards.

##Setting the pace

Current advice states that you should walk briskly for 30 minutes per day to see a difference in your health. You’ll know that your pace is brisk when your breathing gets a bit faster, you feel a little warmer and your heart rate is slightly quicker. But it is important with any new exercise to take things slowly at first. Begin with short distances at a gentle pace and when you feel comfortable to do so, try increasing the distance or upping the pace. If you are ready to make your walks more challenging include some hilly terrain – as walking either up or down a hill uses more energy than walking on the flat. If you think you would enjoy walking as a recreational activity there are plenty of walking clubs and groups to join. Walking can be a great social activity, and some of Britain’s most beautiful and unspoilt landscapes are only accessible on foot.

##Did you know?

* 62% of UK adults say that walking is their main form of exercise

* Walking is three times as popular as swimming, its nearest competitor in popularity

* The average person travels 307km or 192 miles a year on foot. It sounds a lot, but this is actually less than three per cent of the overall distance travelled

* Walking to the point of breaking into a run (or power walking) actually uses more energy than running at the same pace.

##Useful websites

www.ramblers.org.uk www.walkingbritain.co.uk www.walking-routes.co.uk www.whi.org.uk

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