Walking is possibly the safest and most beneficial physical activity for improving health. As walking is low impact, extremely practical and as such is an effective form of movement. The health benefits of walking include improved health in the circulatory, respiratory and skeletal systems, better mental health and reduced risk of many medical conditions. The health benefits of walking and the training principles of walking will be discussed in this piece.
The health benefits of walking
As walking is a predominantly aerobic exercise it provides a range of improvements in health:
– improved fitness (aerobic power, strength, flexibility and balance)
– decreased risk of diabetes
– reduced risk of heart disease
– weight loss (via fat loss) or maintenance of a health weight
– increased bone density
– reduced stress and increased productivity
Training’ principles of walking
For the majority of the population walking is a fairly straightforward exercise it’s something we learnt very early on in life. Despite this it is still important to realize that the health benefits mentioned above will only be maximized by following some of these tips:
– for weight loss it is recommended to walk (or undertake other exercise) for 60-90 minutes most days of the week
– for maintenance of a health weight walking is recommended for about 30-60 minutes most days of the week
– for improved fitness add variety to you walking, alternate hard/easy or long/short walking days and include the occasional hill
– finish your walking session with a few stretches to improve your flexibility
– walk with hand weights to improve strength
– walk to (or at least part of the way to) work, school or uni and you’ll save your self some petrol money
– vary the surface on which you walk (maybe roads, footpaths, trails, grass, sand)
– if you have minimal fitness start slowly and over a few weeks build up to longer, faster walks
As good as walking is for you health it is necessary to supplement it with some higher intensity, impact based exercise. Examples of this could be jogging, team sports such as soccer, basketball or tennis and if you have bad knees perhaps cycling is the best option.
Walking is great for your health, but it also provides a few more benefits to the community. If more people get outside and walk there will be less congestion on the roads, lower pollution levels and the streets will be safer. So get out there and go for a walk.