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National Walking Month – May

National Walking Month is a campaign in May to encourage people to get out and get walking! And what a great month to go enjoy the great outdoors… Spring is officially here and the sun is shining so why not take advantage of one of the easiest (and free) ways to be more active, lose weight and become healthier!

Walking is such an underrated form of exercise and it has many benefits! For starters it is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to start being more active. Regular walking has even been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and even some cancers!

The Evidence…

Researchers at the University of Boulder Colorado and the University of Tennessee found that regular walking lowered blood pressure by as much as 11 points and may reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%.

One of the most cited studies on walking and health, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, found that those who walked 30 or more minutes on 5 or more days per week had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those who did not walk regularly!

In addition walking improves your mood… Research shows that regular walking modifies your nervous system to make you feel more positive. In addition walking outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which is a good antidote for the ‘winter blues’, and you will feel good for getting more active!

It also helps you lose weight, more specifically walking is the most effective low-impact way to increase metabolism, burn extra calories and prevent muscle loss which is especially important as we get older. The best part is that it only takes a relatively small amount of regular walking to see these benefits! 20 minutes a day would be enough to start increasing your metabolism, which is easily attainable.

Finally if you need a little more motivation… Living Streets, the national charity that works to create safe, attractive and enjoyable streets have introduced their #Try20 pledge to show 20 fun and easy ways to fit 20 minutes of walking into your day. We’ve listed our favourite ones below…

How to get started…

  • Before you start you need good shoes! Some that are comfortable, supportive and don’t rub your feet (you don’t want blisters to hold you back!)
  • Comfortable clothing is also helpful so you can move freely and wear some layers so you can take them off or put them on according to the weather.
  • If you are taking a long walk then make sure you have some water to keep you hydrated and maybe some healthy snacks for along the way.
  • Always start slowly and build your time walking gradually. If you want to get the major health benefits from walking then it needs to be ‘moderate-intensity activity’ in other words your pace should be faster than a stroll.
  • But don’t let that put you off! If you can only walk fast for a few minutes that’s fine! You don’t want to over do it. Gradually increase your pace if and when you feel comfortable… Remember so long as you’re moving your still increasing your activity, which is great!
  • Towards the end of your walk gradually slow your pace so you can cool down and then finish off with a few gentle stretches to increase flexibility.
  • If you feel you need some encouragement then buddy up with a friend and go walking together! Its much more fun to talk and walk!

1. Invite family and friends – walking and talking is a great way to spend time with your loved ones so why not invite them along?

2. Try a ‘walking meeting’ – fresh air is good for your brain so why not take the office outside for a change of scenery plus a boost in energy and productivity!

3. Set up a Food Exclusion Zone – Basically this means making sure you walk at least 20 minutes to get your lunch…rather than popping to the shop on the corner! The extra exercise will mean you’ll feel even better when you get your grub!

4. Walk to or from work – or at least add 20 minutes somewhere… even if that’s walking to the next bus stop.

5. Get snap happy this weekend – make your walk more interesting by capturing moments while your there…

6. Take the long cut – rather than taking the short cut find the long way round and add those extra minutes walking into your day!

7. Walk to the local shops – fancy something different for dinner? Why not walk to the shop for some new ingredients plus tone your arms carrying those bags back home!

8. Walk to school week (16th – 20th May) – A great way to get the kids active and set them up for a productive day at school.

9. Make someone’s day – Why not take a walk and call in on a friend or neighbor…everyone likes to have a visit!

10. Power walk! – Want that extra boost in activity? Turn your walk into a power walk and burn some calories in the process!

See the full list at: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/what-you-can-do/try20-tips

References

https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/what-you-can-do/campaigns/national-walking-month-2017

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx

http://www.prevention.com/fitness/benefits-walking-every-day

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