From helping manage your weight to improving stress levels, going for regular walks is one of the best things you can do for your health. It’s easy, free, and requires no equipment, besides some comfy shoes - and usually a raincoat here in Northern Ireland! Walking has many amazing mental and physical health benefits. So what are you waiting for?
Read on for our top 5 reasons to get out and get your step count up.
1. Walking is good for your heart
Your heart is a muscle and its job is to pump blood to every part of your body. The average heart beats 100,000 times a day.
Just like any other muscle, you can strengthen your heart by working it out. Keeping your heart strong and in good condition can help reduce your risk of illnesses like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. A brisk walk is a great way to get your heart beating faster to give it the workout it needs.
2. You don’t need loads of time
You don’t need to walk for hours and hours to get the benefit.
It’s recommended that adults get around 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week – that is, exercise that makes you feel warm and makes your heart beat faster, but while you’re still able to talk comfortably – like a brisk walk.
Just 30 minutes of brisk walking a day for 5 days a week would mean you have achieved your 150 minutes recommended activity!
You don’t have to complete the whole 30 minutes at once, either – if you break it down into smaller, 10 minutes chunks, it can make fitting in walking even easier.
Why not try downloading the ‘Active 10’ NHS App for your smartphone? The app tracks your walking and will let you know how long you have walked for, and if your walking is brisk. Download it here:
3. Walking can help you lose weight
A 30-minute brisk walk could burn up to 100 calories, so adding walks into your day is a great way to burn off excess calories and help you lose weight gradually. You may have heard the recommendation that we should try to walk 10,000 steps a day. While it is definitely not essential to clock up that many, it is estimated that completing 10K steps every day could burn around 2500 to 3000 calories in a week - which is the same as about a pound of fat.
4. You don’t have to be super active
Even you're not very active, every little helps. If you’re not able to walk very far, try walking as far as you can, and then work on gradually increasing your walking distance day by day.
If you cannot leave the house, don’t let that discourage you - it’s still possible to get some steps in. You could take a leaf out of Damien Hillen’s book, who climbed the equivalent of the height of Mount Everest on the 5 steps in his back garden during lockdown, or Anne who walked our Red Dress Run inside by doing laps of her home!
5. Walking can help boost your mood
Walking boosts your circulation and oxygen intake, which can help you feel more energetic as well as improving your sleep. And like all physical activity, walking can also help to release mood boosting hormones in your brain. Getting out in the fresh air, taking in the local scenery, and seeing neighbours or friendly faces while out on a walk can also do wonders to make us feel good.
So, there you have it – five top reasons to get your trainers on, and go for a nice brisk stroll.
For more information on the benefits of physical activity, click here.