It’s a gentle, low-impact form of exercise that’s easy, free and suitable for people of all ages and most abilities. Here’s why it’s so good for you
1. It strengthens your heart
Regular walking has been shown to reduce your 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.
Anything that raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping is a workout for your heart and circulatory system . Walking briskly for up to 30 minutes can help prevent and control the high blood pressure that can cause strokes – reducing your risk by up to 27 per cent.
2. It lowers disease risk
Walking habit 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.Those of us who are active have around a 20 per cent lower risk of developing cancer of the colon, breast and womb than those least active.
3. It keeps weight in check
A person weighing 60kg burns 75 calories simply by strolling at 2mph for 30 minutes. Increase that to 3mph and they’ll burn 99 calories. Speed it up to a fast walk (4mph) and that’s 150 calories . Walking also increases muscle mass and tone and the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism – so the more calories you burn, even at rest.
4. It can help prevent dementia
Dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80. We know being active has a protective effect on brain function and regular exercise reduces dementia risk by up to 40 per cent.
5. ...and osteoporosis, too
Walking counts as a weight-bearing activity. It stimulates and strengthens bones, increasing their density – really important, especially for women. It also helps maintain healthy joints so may stave off conditions such as arthritis.
6. It tones your butts and thighs
A good walk can help strengthen and shape your legs, giving great definition to calves, quads, hamstrings and lifting your glutes (buttock muscles) – especially if you add hills.
7. Let’s not forget your arms
Your speed when walking comes from your arms.Hold them at a comfortable level, bent at the elbow, and swing them backwards and forwards as you walk. Swing them faster and you’ll automatically speed up. And all this movement tones your arms, shoulders and upper back." Bye bye, bingo wings!
8. It boosts your vitamin D levels
If you’re walking outside in daylight, you’ll be boosting your body’s stores of Vitamin D– a nutrient that’s hard to get from food, but that we can synthesize from exposure to sunlight. Many people are deficient in vitamin D and it’s a nutrient that plays a big role in everything from bone health to immunity.
9. It gives you energy
It might seem like a paradox (and the last thing you might feel like) but a brisk walk is one of the best natural energizers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to each and every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. It wakes up stiff joints and eases muscle tension so you feel less sluggish.
10. It makes you happy
The ability of exercise to boost mood is undisputed. Studies have shown regular, moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) to be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression. Getting active releases feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream, reducing stress and anxiety. And don’t forget it’s often a social activity – joining a walking group or meeting friends to walk and chat is a great way to banish feelings of isolation and loneliness.