Walk your Way to Health

Walking is probably one of the most underrated exercise activities.  For most of us, it’s simply a way of getting from A to B but done at the right intensity, it can be used as part of a fat-loss regime.

Of course, if you are training for a sporting event then you’ll need to do something more specific, probably at a higher intensity but walking is enough to give you major health benefits.  As a weight-bearing exercise, walking can help maintain bone density.  It can also help cut the risk of many types of cancer, reduce blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

As well as all these physiological benefits, a good stroll can ease anxiety and stress and through the release of endorphins (our ‘feel-good’ hormone), promote a feeling of well-being.

As a low-impact exercise, your joints don’t take so much of a battering as they perhaps would with a higher impact activity such as running leaving you less vulnerable to injury.  On the other hand, if you have an existing injury or joint problems, walking can be the perfect way to maintain your fitness as you recover.

Still not convinced?  Take note of these other great advantages of walking…

It’s free and it can be done anywhere.  How many times have you talked yourself out of exercising because you ‘haven’t got the time’?  Well, for starters, walking feels less like exercise.  Once you’re out in the fresh air you’ll be taking in the scenery, your mind will start to wander and before you know it you’re finished. 

Also, as it can be done anywhere it’s easy to fit it into your day.  Taking a brisk stroll at lunchtime is a great way to escape your desk and refresh your mind.  By grabbing the kids or your partner and going for a wander after work you’ll feel invigorated at the end of your day rather than the usual early evening slump.

So, how about walking to lose fat?  Well, sure, you’ll burn more calories after a 30 minute hard sweaty workout at the gym than you would walking for half an hour but consider this – an 11 stone woman can burn up to 400 calories walking at a brisk pace (3.5 miles an hour) for 90 minutes.  If you don’t have time to go to the gym or find the thought of it terrifying then get your trainers on and get out in the fresh air instead.

You can easily vary the intensity for a greater fat-burning effect.  Go off-road and power up some hills to burn more calories and really get your heart and lungs working.  An uneven terrain will recruit more muscles and fire up your core as you try to keep your balance.  This all goes towards a greater calorie expenditure and a faster metabolism.

If you’re still not convinced then give it a go.  Try a brisk hour-long walk 3 times a week and (providing your diet remains unchanged) you’ll start to see a difference in your shape after a few weeks.  Add to this the health benefits you’ll get and you’ll wonder why you’ve not done it sooner.

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