Walking - one of the most underrated forms of movement there is! We learn how to do it very early in life, as able bodied people we can all participate, no equipment is required and it can be done anywhere, at any time of the day or night!
Many of us will have heard that we should 'get our steps in daily' and for good reason! Walking has positive impacts on all areas of our health, from our physical, mental to emotional, there are so many reasons why getting out for a regular stroll are a great idea!
From a physical health perspective, walking is a fantastic and gentle way of getting some cardiovascular (cardio) exercise in! Walking increases the strength of your heart, lungs and muscles by making them work harder than at their resting state. This in turn makes them more efficient, all without putting your body under too much strain - win win! Increasing the pace of your walk is an easy way to up the intensity, or you can even try adding in a hill or two for a bigger challenge! A walk is also useful to get the blood flowing and help loosen up tired, sore muscles.
One note on treadmill walking - try to let go of the handles if possible! Doing so mimics a more natural walking style, challenging your balance and stabilising muscles as well as giving an increased cardio workout. We don't have handles out there in the real world!
Regular walking can help with weight maintenance or even weight loss, if that is your goal. The simple act of moving more throughout your day, or increasing your NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, explained in this previous blog), can be enough to help you healthily shift any unwanted weight - no crash diets or excessive exercise required! Things like parking a little further away, pacing while on the phone and taking the stairs all add up.
Although the physical benefits of walking are probably enough incentive to get you lacing up your shoes and heading out the door, the positive effects to our mental health cannot go unmentioned.....
Getting outside for a walk in nature is one of the best ways to de-stress, think, gain perspective and process what is going on in our brains and lives. Whether you do this in silence, with music or a Podcast, or even with a friend, the simple act of getting out and moving can be all you need to gain a fresh outlook.
Meeting a friend for a walk is such a good way to catch up too. There's something about getting your body moving that gets a good conversation flowing, socialising and exercising all in one! I'm sure we all know how good you feel after a nice catch up with a friend. Take your pet and/or your children and you're killing many birds with one stone!
Whilst I'm sure a lot of this isn't new to you, hopefully it serves as a little reminder of just how beneficial a simple walk can be.
As I've said in the past, this whole health and fitness thing doesn’t need to be difficult! Small changes that form healthy new habits add up and can have huge positive long term impacts on your health and wellbeing.
Think about adding in simple movement where you can - if you start today, how much will this have added up to in a week, month or even year?!
Can you try and implement a few walks outdoors into your week if you don't already do so? Even 10 minutes can make a huge difference to your day - start today and see how you feel!