10 Reasons to Love Walking this Autumn

This is all about walking. It’s time to lace up your runners and join the hundreds and thousands of other people out there on our paths, parks and walkways throughout the country. Here’s our top 10 reasons to love walking.

1. You don’t have to be an expert: Unlike some other sports, walking appeals to people of all ages and from all walks of life and you don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive equipment – a good pair of shoes and off you go!

2. You are less likely to get injured walking: It’s a completely natural physical activity – our bodies were designed for it. In fact, walking actually strengthens the ligaments and muscles that hold the joints in place so the more you build these up, the better the chances you have of elimating joint pain.

3. You can be sociable as you walk: Unlike many forms of activity, walking leaves you with enough breath to chat as you go. In fact, we know that when we walk with another person, we tend to move our bodies in similar ways – this is called ‘synchronous movement’. Subconsciously this type of movement can increase rapport and strengthen relationships; it may even help to diffuse conflict, according to a recent paper in American Psychologist.

4. You’ll get more mood benefits: A recent study in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology confirmed that exercising outdoors is more enjoyable than slogging it out on a treadmill, with a greater reported lift in mood. Also, participants who walked outside were then more likely to stick with exercise in the future because it felt like a perk rather than hard work.

5. It helps you to lose weight: Recent research in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that women who increased their daily step count by 1,000 steps lost an average of 2.1 Ibs or 1 kilo over 9 months, without any other dietary/lifestyle changes. The average person can hit that quota in just half a mile.

6. It strenthens your bones: High impact sports, even jogging, will subject your bones to a lot of stess and strain. Walking is much kinder to your bones as the impact is at a low level, but it’s enough to qualify as weight bearing exercise that will help to actually strenthen bones.

7. It boosts your immune system: According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people who walk briskly for 20 minutes each day on 5 days of the week have 43 per cent fewer sick days than those who exercise just once a week or less! This amount of exercise is do-able for most of us, even if we fit it in to our daily commute. Read the informative report (and study mention) here.

8. It strengthens heart health: Regularly walking 3 miles an hour (or faster) can cut your risk of heart disease by half, compared with walking just 2 miles an hour (or slower) according to a study in Circulation.

Take home message: speed up as your heart will thank you for it.

9. It will give you an energy boost better than caffeine: If you need to beat the afternoon slump or refocus your concentration for an important presentation (or just to deal with all the after school activities!), then consider a brisk walk – even for just 10 minutes. According to a recent study in Physiology & Behaviour,  just 10 minutes of walking, or climbing a few flights of stairs, is more energising than consuming 50 mg of caffeine.

10. It could help reduce cravings: Research in PLOS One has shown that a 15-minute walk can reduce the urge to reach for a sugary snack. How? Because moving around can blunt emotional triggers that prompt mindless snacking apparently. So, after your walk, you may no longer crave it. Walking has also been shown to help strengthen the pre-frontal cortex in the brain, meaning that it could help you stick to your healthy eating plan as our willpower is stronger when this part of the brain is thicker.

Why not set a walking goal? Start will small walks and aim for a Saturday hike walk along one of the many Greenways or other walkways. There is now a great choice when it comes to walking routes and for sure, their development has been one of the great success stories of the past 10 years. Read our post on hiking here.

So, what are you waiting for? Lace up those runners. Let’s go walking.

Blog Post by Maebh Coyle