Walking as a form of exercise is often snubbed by the fitness industry who try to persuade us to go big or go home!
But if you’re not able to do much cardio or weight training, walking on its own is hugely beneficial. Especially if you're navigating the world of menopausal hormones and feeling tired or stressed.
Few things have the power to restore quite like a brisk walk and a big deep gulp of fresh air. And the health benefits are many, from lowering your overall risk of chronic disease to helping you feel all is well with the world.
Health benefits of regular walking
Walking has been proven to have a host of health benefits. Here's some of them;
- Heart health – walking reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Weight loss – regular walks can help you lose weight
- Brain function – walking increases circulation, therefore supplying your brain with more oxygen and nutrients. This can reduce brain fog, improve focus, concentration, memory and reduce the risk of Dementia
- Diabetes risk – walking reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by controlling blood sugar and insulin
- Bone health – low impact weight bearing can help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis
- Strengthens muscles – improves muscle tone and strength in your legs and back
- Supports immune system – walking helps to boost your immune cells
- Increases your Vitamin D – if you’re outside you’re more likely to make some Vitamin D
- Reduces stress hormones – walking in nature helps to reduce cortisol
- Improves mental health – studies have shown that walking reduces low mood and depression
- Increases creativity and productivity – I always get my best ideas when I’m out on a walk!
- Increases life expectancy – a recent study of 400,000 people found that just 15 minutes a day of moderate exercise (which includes brisk walking) can add up to three years to life expectancy. Even one 10 minute walk a week can prevent an early death by 15%!
- It’s cheap! You don’t need a gym membership or expensive equipment, just get up and go
- It’s easy on your joints – in fact it helps your joints and your bones
- It’s convenient – you can walk anywhere and everywhere
- It’s environmentally friendly – less time in your car means less pollution!
How much do we need to walk?
Do we really need to walk the 10000 steps that we are told is ideal? A recent analsyis of of over 200,000 people from 17 different studies around the world showed a daily step count of around 4000 can reduce the overall risk of mortality. And just 2000 steps a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. But they did conclude that the more you walk, the more the benefits, and that there didn’t seem to be an upper limit.
Another study published in The Lancet looking at 47,000 participants over 7 years found that for adults over 60, between 6,000-8,000 steps a day had the greatest effect in decreasing mortality, and for adults under 60 the range was 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day.
Tips to include more walking in your day
Here are a few simple ways to make walking a regular part of your routine:
- Invest in some good hiking boots for winter, comfortable trainers for summer and a waterproof jacket. Then there’s no excuse not to get out, even if it’s raining!
- Sneak in extra steps: look for opportunities to be more active throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car farther away from the entrance, get off the train or tube a few stops earlier, or walk to nearby shops instead of driving. These small changes can add up to significant increases in your daily step count.
- Buddy up; walking with a friend or joining a walking group can make the activity more enjoyable and help you stay motivated. Having a walking buddy can also provide the opportunity for meaningful social connections.
- Take a stroll at lunchtime, or have walking meetings with colleagues
- Get a treadmill (or under desk walker) if you really hate walking in bad weather
- Meet your friend for a walk instead of sitting in a café
- Mix It Up: don't limit yourself to the same route every day. Explore different neighbourhoods, parks, or even try walking trails to keep things interesting.
- Get an App that records your steps if it helps to motivate you
- Get a dog – a dog is a great motivator to get out every day, but only if you can look after it and it's not going to add to your stress!
So don’t underestimate the power of “just walking”, adding in a few walks during the week could be just what the Dr. ordered.
If you're new to walking or have been inactive for a while, begin with shorter walks and gradually increase the duration and intensity. Aim to get up to at least 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week.
If you want to work with us on your hormones or health issues, then do get in touch and we can send you more info.