Walking… Like Running, Only Easier!
By Rick Ashworth MSc Applied Sports Science
Walking. It’s not exactly fashionable but it’s hardly going to be seeing as it’s something we all do everyday. On its own it’s not going to help you drop a dress size within a week and neither is it specifically something that’s going to light a fire underneath you as far as an extreme challenge is concerned. However, walking is one of the best exercises you can do and should not be overlooked in the pursuit of great health and fitness. Need to be convinced? No problem, recent scientific research into obesity concluded that for those who regularly walked an average of 30mins each day were likely to see their BMI a whole unit lower than those training regularly at the gym.
Personally, I love walking, I love getting anywhere in the outdoors and even a walk in the rain is preferable to a short car journey to the shops . For better health, walking should be embraced and enjoyed, it is the most fundamental activity that the body is designed to do and due to such it reaps the following benefits in spades:
- Regular walkers have been found to have stronger hearts and better cardiovascular fitness than their less sedentary peers along with a lower incidence of high blood pressure and, therefore, less risk from type-2 diabetes, asthma and certain forms of cancer.
- A brisk walk has been empirically shown to improve mood and, hence, reduce anxiety. Finding others with whom to share the experience only improves this further and this engagement also makes it more likely that you will continue the activity in the long-term. There are many walking groups in your local area and having been a member of one such group I can recommend buying a pair of sturdy walking boots and signing up, check out: the rambling association for further details.
- Regular walking strengthens the muscles in the legs and hips and hill walking in particular will work your butt and core as well as the shoulders and back. Keep a good posture as you walk, looking periodically to the top of the hill rather than staring constantly at your feet and think about pulling your navel tight in towards your spine throughout, in time this will become second-nature anyway but in the meantime it will help your core carry the burden of a backpack or help your legs up an incline.
- The fitter you become the more energy you will feel. Of course, I’m not advocating never drinking coffee or tea again but you shouldn’t need it for an afternoon kick. Walking aids good blood flow and a better supply of oxygen to your working cells, which should mean a better attention span and increased stamina – both physically and mentally.
If all this sounds good and it should as there’s not a negative in sight, then there’s no induction course, just buy a decent pair of shoes or trainers and open the door. 15-20mins a day is a good start that you can probably fit in straight away with a walk to the local shops?
A pedometer might be a good investment if it’s something that will help motivate you to move and walk more but just a brisk walk around the block will do a great deal more for your health and well-being than slumping in front of the TV.
Finally, if you decide to take the plunge and go walking in the great outdoors, remember to carry a waterproof, have your mobile charged before you leave and take food, water and make sure you know where you’re going. Walking is great fun but getting lost is not, take care and enjoy the view from the top, you’ll deserve it.