Can walking really help you stay healthy?

walking healthyAs we all know, physical exercise is important for your health. But sometimes, you don’t want to go for a run, or maybe you can’t find the time. The media and people around you will make you feel bad because you don’t exercise, but don’t listen: there is a way for you to stay active without going to the gym. Go for a walk!

No need to run!

According to the American Heart Association, a recent study showed, “the same energy used for moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease”.

Walking is an excellent exercise for both your body and your mind. Safer and lower impact than running or cycling, it doesn’t require any special equipment apart from a comfortable pair of shoes. And when you start to enjoy it, you won’t be able to stop – walking is the activity with the lowest dropout rate!

Health benefits

If you have a health condition such as heart disease, diabetes or asthma, walking is a great low-intensity exercise. You don’t have to walk too fast – of course, a brisk 30-minute walk every day can be excellent, but going for a quiet walk in the park or around the neighbourhood is fine too. It is important to take your time to enjoy your walk and clear your mind.

A good walk at your own pace is a very healthy activity and will help to:

  • improve your blood pressure and mental well being.
  • increase your cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness.
  • reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and several cancers.
  • lose weight and lower your risk of obesity.
  • strengthen your bones and muscles.

If you are not 100% sure about this activity because of a potential health condition, ask your doctor before you start.

How to start walking

You don’t have time to take 30 minutes out of your day to go for a walk? Don’t worry, there are other ways you can walk without even realizing it.

– If you live close enough, why not walk to work in the morning? It might not take you much longer than usual, and will save you the trouble of waiting for the bus or metro. Alternatively, get off the bus a little earlier and walk the rest of the way.

– Take the stairs instead of the lift and walk up escalators.

– Walk to the local shops.

– Don’t park too close to the entrance of the supermarket. Walking a little will do you good, and you will find a parking spot faster if you park further away.

– Go along with your friends when they walk their dogs, a great opportunity for a catch up and exercise!

If you find that you get bored when walking on your own, and if your friends and family don’t feel like joining you, there are groups and associations such as Walking for Health and the Ramblers in the UK through which you can meet new people of all ages who enjoy walking.