6 Reasons to Love Walking
1. You’ll get some vitamin D and outdoors time: a recent study in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology confirmed what we probably already know; that exercising outdoors feels easier and more enjoyable than the gym. In fact, being outdoors has been shown to be beneficial to mental health and wellbeing.
2. Less chance of injury: even just 1 hour of walking a week can keep us feeling younger and more mobile, according to a study in the Journal of Ageing & Physical Activity. Walking improves balance and endurance, plus each step moves synovial fluid in and out of our joints and helps circulate nutrients to our cartilage, which improves function.
3. It’s good for your immune system: people who walk briskly for 20 minutes a day on 5 days of the week have a 43% fewer sick days than those who exercise only once a week or less, according to research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
4. Your bones will thank you: women who walk for around 4 hours a week have a 41% lower risk of hip fracture than those who walk for less than 1 hour a week, according to the landmark Nurses’ Health Study.
5. Better 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. Walking even 5-6 miles each week, at a pace of just 2 miles an hour, can be enough to lower your risk of things like heart attacks, strokes and heart failure by as much as 31%! People who walk farther and faster enjoy even more benefits. The take-home? Get out walking. And, once you do, speed up if you can!
6. Improved Mood: A new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that 12% of depression cases could be prevented if we all worked for at least an hour each week!
Walk Yourself Slimmer (and Fitter) in Just 4 Weeks
Think of these stats: if the average woman walked at moderate pace on six days of the week, she would lose up to one stone over the course of the year (because the ‘average’ woman burns around 300 calories per hour carrying out moderate intensity exercise). Half an hour? It’s not too bad, is it? In fact, that would be easy to build into your day, either first thing in the morning, or even as part of your daily commute. Bear in mind that the stone we talk about is with no other intervention.
Add to that your healthy eating programme with Motivation and the fact of gaining fitness every few weeks, then the results could be double, treble or quadruple that or more. I haven’t been able to go out for my usual walk with the dog for about six weeks now (due to my Achilles tendon injury) and I miss it so much! I can’t wait to get back out there and, do you know what, I might just stick to the half hour a day for now. If I want to do more in the summer, great but for now that commitment of half an hour almost every day is great. You can mentally psyche yourself out of exercise if you set the goal too high – so keep it reasonable and just get going!
What to Expect
The hardest part is starting; once you do, you’ll be on a roll. But remember when you first start walking you may feel hungrier so you have to be careful not to eat more. And it becomes crucial that you manage your blood sugar by following your Motivation plan.
Remember to eat a source of protein every 3-4 hours. With those crucial mid-morning and mid-afternoon slumps avoided, you’ll find it easier to not overeat and to make good, healthy choices at your main meals. Read more about the importance of protein in Michael’s blog.
For the first two to three weeks, you may find that your weight loss plateaus, or that you don’t lose as much as you expected. Please don’t be disheartened – this is due to the fact that you are building muscle. Ultimately, that extra muscle serves you very well; it speeds up your metabolism, meaning you burn more calories (even while you’re asleep!) and it gives you a leaner body.
After about three weeks you should notice a nice dip in your weight of a few pounds, particularly if you are eating very well and filling in your daily diary.
‘Bursts’ Can Speed up Weight Loss
Interval walking is when you alternate between fast bursts and a slower, recovery pace. It’s well worth doing – not just to help you burn more fat (the evidence proves interval training is a wonderful fat-burner), but also for overall fitness and huge cardio benefits.
Try to intersperse your regular walk with ‘bursts’ of activity, for instance, fast walk or sprint to the next postbox or to the corner. You’ll also get home quicker!!