Our recent poll on Nutracheck asked members ‘Which type of exercise do you do most regularly?’. Perhaps unsurprisingly the most popular answer was ‘walking’, with running, swimming, cycling, gym classes and exercise DVD’s all scoring quite low in comparison.
What’s so great about walking?
So why is it that walking is such a popular exercise choice? Well where do I start! There are so many benefits to choosing walking for exercise, here are just some of the top reasons.
- It’s free! You don’t need to fork out for an expensive gym membership to do it, you can walk anywhere, any time.
- It’s sociable. Walking is a great exercise to do with a friend or family member, and gives you a chance to catch up while getting some exercise – two birds with one stone!
- It’s a low impact exercise. Walking puts very little strain on the body, so it’s great for people who aren’t able to do higher impact sports.
- It’s adaptable – as in you can make it as easy or as hard as you like. You can either do a leisurely stroll, or power walk up a hill, it’s completely up to you. In terms of progressing your fitness level, walking can be adjusted to a level to suit your personal needs.
- It’s versatile. You can walk anywhere (on holiday!), at anytime of the day and in any weather conditions. While you might think walking is bound to be more enjoyable in the summer, this is not strictly the case. Personally I love a good winter’s day walk with my other half, all wrapped up in the frosty air.
- No equipment necessary – unlike some activities, walking requires nothing more than you, and a good pair of shoes.
- You can do it on your lunch break. If time is an issue for you, why not do a 30 minute walk on your lunch break. You’ll burn some calories, and the fresh air and time away from your desk will clear your head.
- Walking has no limits! You can progress to bigger challenges. So you might start with the occasional stroll around the park, but you can progress to long distance walks, countryside hikes and mountain climbing! 3 peaks challenge anyone?
How to improve the effectiveness of your walk
While walking is a great form of exercise, it’s important to distinguish between the type of walking you do around the house (‘pottering’) and actually going for a walk to get some exercise! If you want your walk to benefit your weight loss efforts, there are certain things you can do to ensure you get the most from it.
Firstly, ensure you’re walking at a high enough intensity to raise your heart rate and increase your breathing. Your aim to to be slightly out of breath but still able to hold a conversation (some talking to yourself may be required!). Of course if you can progress to a higher intensity than this, that’s great.
Make sure you progress your walks over time by making them more challenging in some way, to ensure they’re still effective. Our bodies are very efficient at adapting to change, so mixing up your routine helps to ensure your body doesn’t get too used to the same programme. It may be that you walk faster, take a more undulating route (hills!), or increase the distance. Whatever you choose, just ensure it challenges you each week.
Our fitness expert Kelly Marshall has written two great articles with some tips for walking which you can find in our Resources section. For more great tips on walking check out these two links below:
As we’ve established, walking is great! But it also has the potential to lead to bigger and better things. Many people use walking as a stepping stone to increase their fitness and then ‘up’ the challenge by starting to run. Walking, incorporating periods of running (run for a minute, walk for a minute) is a great way to build up your fitness, until eventually you can run for extended periods without stopping. Before you know it you’ll be running marathons! Running is excellent for all over fat-burning if you are able to do it. However if you are just starting out and your aerobic fitness isn’t as great as you’d like it to be, walking is the perfect place to start.
Overall walking is a great form of exercise for everyone, and it has the potential to encourage you to achieve even bigger goals – so what are you waiting for!?