Walking is fantastic, whether it is a walk in the forest, fields, to school, college, work or on the golf course. It is free, flexible, healthy, excellent for you overall well-being and good for the environment (Note - Walking on the golf course is great but it is expensive and frustrating)
Autumn is perfect for walking so get out and walk no matter where, try to pick up the pace and get the blood flowing and a 30 minute walk will set you on your way to reaping physical and mental benefits. If you plan it right a good walk should always end at a cosy pub.
Encourage your kids to walk to school when you can, maybe set them challenges on route and see if they can raise some money at the same time. (There are loads of fund raising ideas on the internet) It is really important to get children into a the right mindset from an early age, so encourage them to walk as much as possible. The Walk to school week website has some great resources including a 5 day walking challenge. There is also a parents section where there are loads of articles, tips and advice in regards to walking, safety, exercise.
Let's talk about walking
Walking is an easy way to exercise as we do so much of it during the day. By walking regularly throughout the day you can easily walk for over 30 minutes, and this will lead to an increase in fitness and potentially weight loss. Walking is an easy way to exercise and lose weight without putting too much stress on your knees and other joints.
The normal advice that is passed to the public has always been to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. Most fitness trackers have a default setting of 10,000 steps per day, which is the equivalent to walking about 8 kilometres, and people who use these trackers will generally use the 10,000 steps as a benchmark of fitness.
So where did 10,000 steps come from?
According to Catrine Tudor-Locke, director of the walking behavior laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Baton Rouge, the origins of the 10,000-steps recommendation aren't exactly scientific. Pedometers sold in Japan in the 1960s were marketed under the name "manpo-kei," which translates to "10,000 steps meter". The idea resonated with people, and gained popularity with Japanese walking groups, this has in turn spread throughout the world.
However 10,000 steps is only a guide and as per government advice an adult should look to do 150 hours per week of moderate exercise. To meet recommendation, you need to walk about 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day, Tudor-Locke said. If you normally walk about 5,000 steps a day, getting in an extra 30-minute, brisk walk into your day would take you to about 8,000 steps.
So how do you make sure that you are benefiting from walking?
1. Try to walk for at least 30 minutes per day and make walking part of your daily routine by walking to work, to the bus or up the stairs at work. If you struggle to walk for 30 minutes in one go, either start with a 10-15 minute brisk walk and build up to a 30 minute brisk walk over a period of time.
2. Walking in the morning can be very beneficial, especially If you can walk instead of driving or getting public transport. Walking early at a brisk pace will wake the body and mind, and will help to speed up your metabolism. If you walk for 30 minutes or more then a good chunk of your daily exercise is done.
3. Walk after eating a meal - this will help to speed up your metabolism and helps your body digest the food you have consumed. Make sure that you also drink plenty of water throughout the day to support this. Make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced and varied diet.
4.Walk at a good pace and increase your intensity as you walk, adding bursts of speed. You can use a tree or lamppost in the distance to guide you as you walk. Walk at a steady speed to one tree and then walk at a brisk speed to the next tree.
5. Try to walk on various terrains, not just on the pavement. Walk on trails and up hills, and when walking up hills lean forward and take shorter steps. You can also swing your arms more, this will assist in propelling you forward. Walking uphill will increase your heart rate and give your lower body a good workout.
6. Have a step goal each day, and use a fitness tracker to help guide you. As you get fitter increase the steps you walk everyday. Introduce a strength program into your week, targeting your lower body and core, this will assist in your lower body strength and posture. Walking regularly along with the strength workout, drinking plenty of water each day and eating a balanced and nutritious diet will help your mental and physical fitness and your overall well-being.
7. This increase in walking will aid weight loss, regulate your blood pressure, aids circulation, calms your mind, strengthens your muscles and helps your body produce vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But remember to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume regularly.
So even if you have not got time to go to the gym or go for a long run, you should definitely be able to make time to walk everyday. The benefits to body and mind are fantastic.
Paul Brown - Consultant
CBT Practitioner | Workplace Wellness & Welfare | Mental Well-being
I work with organisations, corporate clients and private clients.
I am a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and Life Coach
Mental Health First Aider and I provide Mental Health Awareness