Half an hour of daily walking can hugely benefit your health.
Pilates, yoga and the classic treadmill get all the attention when it comes to popular ways to stay healthy. There is, however, a more unassuming workout that might not get the column inches, but has all the benefits – walking.
Certified fitness professional Jolynn Baca Jaekel explains: “What I love about walking is that anyone can do it at any age and any fitness level. Plus it is good for your heart, your head and your wallet.”
A recent report by the Ramblers and Macmillian Cancer Support entitled Walking Works details the health benefits of the humble walk. The report found that regular walking to fulfil the 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise every week recommended by the UK’s chief medical officer could save 37,000 lives each year. It could also lead to nearly 300,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes.
In some cases walking can be more effective than running. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, found that brisk walking reduces the risk of heart disease more effectively than running. They observed participants aged between 18 and 80 over a six-year period and found that walking reduced the risk of heart disease by 9.3%, while running reduced it by 4.5%.
And there’s even more good news: 30 minutes of brisk walking over five days could help you sleep easy, according to research by Oregon State University. A study by the university showed that walking helped participants sleep better and feel more alert during the day.
The recommended amount of exercise for adults is 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. That breaks down to 30 minutes of exercise over five days a week.
Even though 30 minutes is the ideal, Dr I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, suggests starting with three shorter 10-minute walks each and slowly building up to the 30-minute walk once you feel comfortable.
The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll notice the difference in your mind and body. If your aim is to lose weight, then according to the NHS walking estimates, just 30 minutes of walking will help a 60kg person lose 99 calories.
The mental health charity Mind found in their report Ecotherapy: The Green Agenda For Mental Health that country walks can reduce depression and raise self-esteem. So ditch the smoggy congested route for a nearby park or green space when you head out for your 30-minute walk.