Walking for health
1 May 2019
It’s National Walking Month so what better time than now to get active?
Walking is one of the most common exercises – it’s free, easy, and comes with a host of health benefits. But many people neglect walking as much as they should.
It isn’t just walking that is beneficial. A brisk walk is what delivers the most benefits. For those short on time, a brisk walk doesn’t require hours of time, either. In fact, just a 10 minute brisk walk will do.
Preparing for a walk
Before any type of exercise, it is important to be prepared. This is essential to reduce the chance of an injury, as well as to ensure you’re comfortable.
Often overlooked, the type of footwear is extremely important. If you aren’t wearing the correct type of footwear for your walk, then you could end up causing damage to your feet, such as blisters. This is why you need to pick shoes or trainers that are comfortable to wear.
If you are doing your brisk walk by walking to work, sometimes it can be tricky to wear comfortable shoes, particularly if you are required to wear a certain type of footwear for work. That’s why it is recommended to walk to work in comfortable shoes, and then change your shoes to those required once you get to work.
Not wearing the right type of clothing can be dangerous.
If it is a warm day, you should be wearing looser fitting, thinner clothing. This is to avoid being overheated whilst walking.
Likewise, if it is a cold day, then warmer clothing is recommended, but be careful not to put on too many layers – as walking will increase your body temperature.
As we all know too well in Britain, it can rain often. Sometimes heavily. For this reason, if it looks like it could rain whilst out on your walk, bring a waterproof jacket. If it becomes cold and rainy, this could cause illness.
How fast should I walk?
As the idea is to go for a brisk walk, you should be walking faster than at your normal pace.
Generally, a brisk walk is where you’re walking at 3 miles per hour.
To know if you are walking fast enough, Public Health England (PHE) have developed an app that can tell you when you’re walking fast enough by using your smartphone. The app, called Active 10, can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Start slowly if you don’t walk often
Going from not being very active to taking regular walks can take its toll on the body. As with most things in life, it is best to take it slowly.
If you are not particularly active, then it is recommended to see if your local swimming pool offers exercise classes. Water can help to support your joints during swimming, which then allows them to get used to the increase in activity.
Alternatively, if you can’t get into a swimming exercise class, or you don’t want to, then proceed with going for a brisk walk, but decrease the distance you walk for the first few times until your body has begun to get used to it. Over time, you can gradually increase the distance that you walk.
If you have a disability or other health concern that prevents you from exercising, the NHS has a guide on how to get started.
Resting after a walk
Once you have completed your walk, it is important to take a break and have some well-earned rest.
Health benefits of walking
Walking brings with it a number of health benefits. Not only does walking make you feel more active and energised, but it can also:
- Reduce stiffness in your joints
- Reduce aches and pains
- Help you to lose weight
- Reduce blood pressure (see this study)
If you have a mobility issue, or suffer from joint pain or aches, then a riser recliner chair is the perfect piece of furniture to add to your home. Through their riser and recline functions, they help deliver the right amount of support to your body, in a position that is comfortable for you.