Often, when people decide to embark on an exercise regime, whether for fitness, fat loss or rehabilitation, the first place they think of going is the gym (or pool, or their bike but you get the idea – sweaty exercise, grr). However, there is one form of exercise which is often overlooked in favour of its higher-octane counterparts.
Yep, I’m talking about walking. We do it pretty much every day without thinking about it, but it could hold the secret to achieving your health goals, and here are 5 reasons we should do more of it:
It’s low impact
Making it the perfect exercise choice if you have joint injuries or pain. The weight-bearing element also means that it helps maintain muscle strength and bone density, leaving you less vulnerable to breaks.
It’s great for weight loss
Did you know that a brisk 60-minute walk (around 4.6 mph) can burn as many calories as a 30-minute jog? (around 6 mph) Walking is the underdog of the fat-loss scene and is much underrated. A brisk 60-minute walk 3 times a week can leave you just over 800 calories down, burning almost 1lb of fat in just a month (everything else being equal).
It’s free, with little to no equipment
If you have cool clothing (I’m guessing you do) and a comfy pair of shoes (again, pretty much a given) then you’re good to go. No membership fees, fancy kit or expensive equipment necessary.
It’s fun, social and fits in with your life
It’s very easy to fit walking into your daily routine. Consider getting up earlier and walking to work if you live close enough, walking the kids to school instead of driving, or setting aside some time each day for a stroll.
Another big tick is that the usual barriers don’t apply. No childcare? Take the kids with you (in a buggy or on a bike/scooter if they’re too little or reluctant walkers) No time? Go on your lunch break or talk your friends into a walk instead of meeting at a cafe/bar. Funds tight? It’s free – that excuse has no place here.
If you can recruit friends, a partner or kids, it can also help build your relationships. People find it easier to talk openly when they’re away from distraction and not in a face-to-face situation.
It’s very difficult to find a reason not to do it, and it’s fun and gives you headspace, making you less likely to want to make excuses in the first place.
It’s good for your health
Stating the obvious, right? But a recent study found that compared to people using the same amount of energy running, walkers experienced greater health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, first-time high blood pressure and first-time high cholesterol. If that’s not enough encouragement to lace up your trainers and get out for a stride, then I don’t know what is.