Some of the benefits of walking are listed below.
Walking is a good means of getting around for many reasons.
Brisk walking that raises your heart rate and makes you warm and slightly breathless is a great example of aerobic exercise. This helps you to get fitter and means your body gets better at using oxygen so you will find it easier to be more active and tire less quickly.
As with all exercise, walking burns calories – someone who weighs 60kg who walks briskly at about 6.4km per hour (4 miles per hour) for half an hour uses up around 150 calories. To lose excess weight, you need to make sure you’re burning up more calories than you take in through eating and drinking. You’re also likely to need to exercise more than the recommended target of 150 minutes a week.
As with all types of exercise, not only is walking good for your physical health, but it improves your mood, reduces stress and anxiety and builds self-esteem. So walking to work could help you to start the day feeling calmer and happier. Any sort of exercise causes the release of particular hormones (chemicals produced naturally by your body) called endorphins – these hormones create a ‘natural high’ bringing about changes in your body that make you feel better and happier.
You might worry that walking every day will leave you exhausted. Although you may feel slightly tired in the first week or two, people who exercise regularly generally feel they have more energy than inactive people.
Regular physical activity will mean you sleep better, provided you don’t do it too soon before going to bed – this can disrupt your sleep so leave about four hours between exercising and getting your head down. Gentle exercise is fine though – heading out for a light stroll after your evening meal might help you to wind down before bedtime.
For your joints to work at their best, you need to keep them moving. Regular walking gives your knee joints a good work-out, increases your muscle strength and can help to keep your bones strong. Leading a generally active lifestyle, including walking, may help protect against osteoporosis (weak bones).
Walking is an excellent choice of exercise if you already have joint problems or osteoporosis because it doesn’t put much impact on your joints. It can also help to reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Not only can walking reduce joint pain, it can help to prevent back pain and alleviate it if it’s already a problem for you.
As well as keeping you fit and in good shape, staying active will mean you’re less likely to develop a range of health problems in the future. Using walking to help you meet the recommended physical activity targets reduces your risk of:
If you haven’t been active for a while, walking is one of the easiest ways to get started. Begin slowly and gradually increase how much walking you do. Build walking into your daily routine so that it becomes a habit – that way it will be easier to keep it up. Below are some ideas to help you get started.
Once you have started walking regularly, there are a number of things you can do to keep going.