05 Jun Benefits of Walking
Physical activity does not have to be complicated. Many people have started to include walking as part of their daily exercise routine during this covid-19 pandemic.
Walking is a great way to improve and maintain your overall health. Walking is a low impact activity which requires minimal equipment (just a good pair of walking shoes with heel and arch support). It can be done at any time of the day and can be performed at your own pace. Walking is a great form of physical activity for someone who is overweight, elderly or has not exercised in a very long time.
As mentioned above, physical activity does not have to be complicated and dauting. A simple brisk walk can help to:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Lose body fat.
- Prevent or manage conditions such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, certain types of cancers and type 2 diabetes.
- Improve your cardiovascular fitness.
- Strengthen your bones, joints and muscles.
- Improve your muscle endurance.
- Increase your energy levels.
- Improve your balance and co-ordination.
- Strengthen your immune system.
- Reduce tension and stress.
- Improve your mood cognition, memory and sleep.
Improving your walking posture and using your movements purposefully will turn your normal walk into a calorie burning fitness stroll. The correct posture for walking is as follows:
- Walking with your head up, you should be looking ahead and not at the ground.
- Your neck, shoulders and back must be relaxed and not in a stiff upright position.
- Your arms should be swinging freely at your sides, with slight bend at the elbow. It is okay to pump your hands a little as you walk.
- Your stomach muscles need to be slightly tighten, so that your back is straight and not arched forwards or backwards.
- Your stride should be smooth, roll your foot from heel to toe when taken a step.
Before you go out on your walk ensure that you are wearing the correct gear. You should be wearing shoes with proper arch support, a firm heel and thick flexible soles to cushion your feet and absorb shock. Wear loose fitting clothes to allow you to move freely. When visibility is diminished (early mornings or late evenings), when it is possibly still dark make sure to wear bright colours or a reflective jacket, so that you can be seen. If you are able to go out for a walk during the day remember to use sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses, even it is a cloudy day. Don’t forget to warm up, stretch and cool down when performing any type of exercise.
The rule of thumb is to generally aim for 30 minutes of daily physical activity or 150 minutes a week. If you are unable to find this amount of time in your schedule, try to fit in a few short sessions of activity throughout the day because any amount of activity is better than none at all. Try the following, to incorporate more movement and activity into your day:
- Walk your pet.
- Take a lunch time stroll.
- If it is possible park further away from your office entrance.
- If your commute via train or bus to work, get off one stop earlier and walk the rest of way to your office building.
- Try to use the stairs more often than elevators or escalators.
Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. 2015. Walking for good health – Better Health Channel. [online] Available at: <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/walking-for-good-health> [Accessed 27 June 2021].
Mayo Clinic. 2021. Walk your way to fitness. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261> [Accessed 26 June 2021].
Middle Park Osteopathic Clinic. n.d. The Benefits of Walking – Middle Park Osteopathic Clinic. [online] Available at: <http://middleparkosteopathicclinic.com.au/the-benefits-of-walking/> [Accessed 27 June 2021].