Walk yourself to fitness!

May is our National Walking Month and as walking is something we are still able to do during lockdown (as long as we respect the social distancing rules set out by the government). If you are not a regular walker, perhaps now is the time to start-  just 15 minutes of walking every day has been found to change your body for the better!

The NHS states that walking is “sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you to build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier”.  That seems like a win win situation, particularly when you add to that the fact that it also allows us to experience nature in all its beauty as we exercise, which in turn can not fail to improve our mental health and overall sense of wellbeing.

So how can walking improve your health?

The cardiovascular benefits of walking are in no doubt. Walking improves a variety of cardiac risk factors such as blood pressure, obesity, mental stress and may even help to lower cholesterol. If that’s not enough to spur you on to take a brisk walk, then perhaps the fact that moderate exercise like walking has also been shown to help to protect us from diabetes, depression and even dementia will! Furthermore, whilst running is a high-impact sport, walking is considered a lower impact exercise, which will place less strain on your muscles and joints.

So what should you know before you start?

  • As with any exercise, if this is something you have never done before you should start slowly - if you have any health issues, you should of course consult your doctor.
  • Make sure that you have comfortable shoes or trainers to walk in so that you do not find yourself left with painful blisters as a reminder of your walk.
  • Take a bottle of water with you to ensure that you are hydrated.
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat if the weather is fine - and if it’s not, a lightweight waterproof jacket may prove invaluable.
  • Know what speed to aim towards – a walk in which you cover about 3 miles per hour would be considered brisk.
  • Increase your distance gradually as your fitness improves.
  • Vary your route! There are some fantastic walks in London and a little bit of research goes a long way once you get a bit more experienced.
  • Don’t forget though to keep within the guidelines the government has laid out.  Exercise is currently permitted once a day during lockdown and we should save walks that leave us walking for hours until after we have emerged from the threat of this Pandemic. 
  • Ensure that you keep at least 2 metres distance between you and anyone else you encounter on your walk.
  • Last but not least, remember to relax and enjoy both the physical exercise of the walk and the beauty of your surroundings!
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