With so many of us walking far less than any previous generations, we sometimes need reminding that walking doesn’t just get you from A to B but it can also reduce your risk of disease, improve your physical and mental health, help the environment and boost your social life too.
May is National Walking Month, a campaign created to promote the benefits of walking and one that has been designed to get people walking, whatever fitness level.
The Health Benefits
Walking as an exercise shouldn’t be underrated because on average, walking 10,000 steps burns 400 calories a day, that’s not bad really. Regular walking can help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, obesity, strokes, some cancers and helps maintain musculoskeletal health.
Walking can also lift your mood and reduce stress, anxiety and depression and if you do it in the countryside or by the sea you get the added benefit of nature, tranquillity and fresh air.
While our skin and eyes need to be protected against unhealthy UV exposure, some UV light is needed for optimum health. The UV light we absorb when we are outside, walking can alleviate depression, help to regulate our body clock and stimulate Vitamin D production. Vitamin D is vital for us because it boosts our immune systems, helps blood cell formation and allows us to absorb the calcium and phosphorous need for healthy bones and teeth. The World Health Organisation says that 5 to 15 minutes of exposing our hands, face and arms, two to three times a week during summer is enough to keep vitamin D levels high and walking is a great way to get this.
More Benefits of Walking
The great thing about walking is that it is free, anyone can do it and no special equipment is needed. Walking can be done anytime, anywhere and it is really easy to make it part of your everyday routine. You can add to it your journey to school, work or shopping, walk up the stairs rather than taking the lift or even just walk from your desk to another one, it all adds up.
As you’re not obviously ‘exercising’ it can reduce any self-consciousness you might feel and no one even needs to know you are increasing your activity levels so there is no pressure for results.
Walking can also be a fantastic way to meet new friends and improve relationships. Walking on a regular basis with family or friends is the perfect way to catch up and if you want to find new friends and build your social life, a walking group can be brilliant fun and help get your mind, body and soul fit.
As well as being good for you, walling let’s you do your bit for the environment. When we walk rather than using our own, or public transport, we reduce pollution and congestion which helps reduces emissions and in turn improves everyone’s health. OK, it might seem small but we have to start somewhere if we want to keep this beautiful planet of ours safe.
Walking Dos and Don’ts
DO wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes and shoes and if you are in a hilly areas, go for well-fitting walking boots.
Do wear sunglasses and a hat when it is sunny to protect your eyes and skin. Remember to apply sun cream before and during your walk, especially in hotter weather and between 11 and 3pm.
Do build up your walking slowly. This isn’t a race, take your time, enjoy walking and make every step count.
DO take care. You might not be running a marathon but take a bottle of water and healthy snack with. Take your phone and let someone know where you are going and how long you expect to be. If you can walk with someone else, do it, and if you are walking alone at night, listening to music might not be a good idea.
DON’T ignore pain. Whether it is blisters on your feet, heart pains or dizzy spells, if you don’t feel well, stop, go home and speak to your GP if it continues.
It’s simple, free, and one of the easiest ways to become more active and fit, so what are you waiting for?
Team Pure Beauty