Updated: Jul 14, 2019
If you’re new to exercise and aren’t sure where to start there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking on a pair of walking boots and heading outside. Walking may not be sexy or trendy but it’s an effective and accessible form of exercise no matter what your age or fitness level.
In fact the humble walk has incredible health benefits. A recent study carried out by the University of Cambridge found that just 20 minutes of walking a day can reduce the risk of premature death by a third. Just 30 minutes, five days a week is enough to meet the government’s minimum recommended physical activity guidelines.
1. Lowers risk of disease
According to research, walking regularly can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by a whopping 60 per cent. You’re also less likely to develp certain types of cancer such as colon and breast cancer.
2. Improves heart health and reduces risk of stroke
Walking improves cardio fitness, lowers levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and can help to control blood pressure.
3. Helps Lose Weight
You may not burn the same number of calories you would with a high intensity workout but a regular walking habit can certainly help you lose weight. Keep up a brisk pace to maximise the benefits.
4. Improves mental wellbeing
Walking can improve cognitive function and memory. It’s also a brilliant way to reduce stress and anxiety and can help prevent dementia.
5. Boosts vitamin D
Our bodies create vitamin D from sunlight and it’s essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Many people in the UK suffer from vitamin D deficiency, particularly in the winter months, so walking is a great way to get outside for a dose of sunshine.
After countless childhood holidays whingeing about being dragged up Lakeland fells by my parents, I’ve recently rediscovered walking and while most of my exercise takes place in the studio I try to go for a walk at least once a week. It’s a great form of active recovery and I absolutely love being outside. I’m lucky enough to live in Cornwall where there are incredible walks on my doorstep but there are plenty of opportunities to walk even if you live in a city.
The British Heart Foundation has some great training plans here: https://www.bhf.org.uk/get-involved/events/training-zone/walking-training-zone/walking-training-schedules
The Ordnance Survey website offers practical advice https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/guides/beginners-guide-to-walking/
If you’d like some tips on technique check out Joanna Hall’s Walkactive programme. http://walkactive.com