Walking

Walking is a simple, free way of getting more physically active and is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels. It is easy to build into your daily routine and doesn't require any special equipment.

As well as many health benefits, walking can help you feel part of your community.

For walking to count towards your recommended level of physical activity, you should walk at a pace that increases your breathing speed and heart rate. Taking a brisk walk (as if you are late for an appointment) for just 30 minutes a day on at least 5 days per week can help you feel good (you will feel fitter and feel better about yourself); you will have more energy, reduce stress, reduce your blood pressure, manage your weight and sleep better. You will also have fun!

Nordic walking

Nordic walking is a full-body exercise that is also easier on your lower joints than regular walking due to the use of poles. It is a great way to significantly improve the condition of your muscles, heart and lungs.

Nordic walking poles harness the power of your upper body muscles to help push you forward as you walk. It is recognised way to turn a walk into full body exercise. You move in a similar way to ordinary walking, holding your poles, you swing your arms with your elbows straight allowing the bottom of the poles to push against the ground propelling you forward as you move.

It is recommended that when you begin Nordic walking, you start with lessons to ensure you master the basic technique and can continue the exercise without causing yourself strain or injury. There are Nordic Walking groups across the country that you can join.

Health benefits

Like other forms of moderate activity, regular walking is proven to reduce your risk of some chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. It can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of depression.

For older people, walking more often is great for increasing general mobility and muscle strength in your lower body which reduces the risk of falls.

Nordic walking can bring health benefits beyond regular walking as it involves more areas of your body.

Get started

If you decide to do more walking, either set aside time specifically for going for walks, or begin to substitute taking the car, or public transport for short distances (get off the bus a stop early), for walking. You can start by breaking the time into smaller chunks ie. Walk for 10 minutes 3 times per day or 15 minutes twice a day. Build this up to walking greater distances and picking up a faster pace. Usually all you need is a pair of comfortable shoes, ideally trainers that allow you to walk comfortably and provide suitable support to your feet.

Try aiming for 10,000 steps per day. Most of us already walk between 3,000 and 4,000 so increasing this a little more each day to 10,000 may not be as challenging at it sounds. Look for local walking groups, health walk groups or even try going with friends or your partner. For some, walking with other people provides motivation to not only start walking more, but to continue.

To find out what is in your area go to:

http://www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder

http://www.snh.gov.uk/enjoying-the-outdoors/simple-pleasures/

http://www.ramblers.org.uk/go-walking.aspx