Take a Walk on the Wild Side
One of the most beneficial forms of exercise is something we all do to a certain extent every day – walking. Taking regular walks can make a massive improvement on your overall health and well-being, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Here are a few ways that walking can benefit your health:
- It can help you to lose weight. Any form of exercise can do this but walking is free and it is enjoyable. A brisk walk every day helps to burn off calories, tone muscles and improve your breathing.
- It can keep your heart healthy. Technically, walking is classed as cardiovascular exercise. Obviously, as with many exercises, the harder you walk the better it is. Good brisk walking on a daily basis helps to increase your heart rate, thus increasing your cardio output, which, in turn leads to a lower risk of high blood pressure and heart disease in the long term.
- It can help to reduce the risks of cancer. Because walking is a physical activity, it has many benefits. Physical activity has been linked with a lower risk of certain cancers, such a breast, colon and womb cancer. In fact, some studies have shown that walking is actually more beneficial in this area than a more intensive activity such as running or playing a game of tennis.
- It lowers the risk of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and one of the contributing factors is weight. Regular physical activity, such as walking, can help to reduce weight, thus reducing the risks of diabetes.
- It helps to improve bone health. Any physical activity that involves extensive use of the legs and arms, such as walking, can help to lower the risk of osteoporosis in later years. Walking strengthens up the bones, reducing loss of density, which is the main factor in diseases such as osteoporosis and can also help to reduce the risk of arthritis in the joints.
- It helps to improve mental health. That’s right, walking can actually improve your mood and make you feel better about things. It’s also a great aid to reliving the symptoms of depression and is a wonderful stress buster.
- It helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Believe it or not, it can reduce the risk by up to 40% and, if you already have the disease, it can slow down its progress. Older people can also reduce the shrinkage of their brains and reduce later memory loss by walking 6 miles every week. Studies show that regular exercise helps new brain cells to grow and also improves the repair mechanisms in cells and tissue.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
Some say you can have too much exercise and that it is just as bad for you. In some respects, it is, but much depends on the type of activity you are doing and how intensive it is. On average, you should try for 10-20 minutes moderate exercise every day, up to 30 if you feel fit enough and have no mobility problems. This is not a difficult figure to achieve if you are walking.
- Walking to the local shop instead of getting in your car
- Walk up the stairs instead of getting on the escalator or in the lift
- Park further away from the shops so you have a little farther to walk
- Plan a walking route at the weekends, perhaps through a country park or a tour around a town near to you
- Join a ramblers group. Not only is it good exercise, it’s also a great social activity.
One thing you must do, if you have any concerns about your health, is to consult your physician before taking on any physical activity.