According to the Greek physician, Hippocrates, “Walking is man’s best medicine” and boy is he right!
Walking is one of the simplest and easiest forms of exercise there is, but when people think of exercising they do not generally visualise themselves walking. Instead, they imagine themselves pounding the pavements or treadmill, taking part in a spin class or body combat class whilst significantly sweating and breathing heavily.
Whilst these types of higher intensity exercise activities are excellent in their own way, the fact that walking does not fall into this category does not mean that it is without its own merits.
Walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active and there is a wealth of research to prove that walking really is the best form of exercise there is.
Strengthens your heart
Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. It lowers levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and keeps blood pressure in check.
Lowers disease risk
As well as heart disease, walking can slash your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers. A study in the British Medical Journal showed taking more steps every day can help ward off diabetes.
Helps manage your weight
Walking is one of the easiest ways to lose weight. Walking also increases muscle mass and tone and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism.
Can help to prevent Osteoporosis
Walking is a weight-bearing activity, therefore it stimulates and strengthens bones, increasing their density. It also helps maintain healthy joints.
Tones you up
Walking briskly can help strengthen and shape your legs, tone your arms, shoulders and upper back (good for bingo wings) and whittle down your waist.
Boosts your vitamin D levels
Walking outside in the daylight will boost your body’s stores of vitamin D, a nutrient that’s hard to get from food, but one that we can synthesise from exposure to sunlight. Don’t forget to protect yourself with sunscreen, even on a cloudy day.
Increases energy levels
Walking stimulates the circulation of blood in the body and simultaneously boosts all metabolic activities. A brisk walk elevates the mood, perks up the energy levels making you feel more alert whilst reducing stress and anxiety.
By Gemma Clarke