As we look back on National Walking Month in May and the more than 81,000 miles that were covered to mark it, there’s no doubt that getting out and pounding those pavements/streets/hills/dales is a great way to increase fitness and improve health. Much less high impact than running or jogging but still an enormously effective form of exercise, walking can make a real difference to all our health.
In order to get the benefits of walking, the pace that needs to be set is that of ‘moderate exercise.’ This is at around four miles an hour, which is enough to get your heart rate up – the same pace you might walk at if you were running late for something. If you can get out and walk around five times a week for at least half an hour then you will soon start to see – and feel – the difference. If you’re considering talking up walking then here are five useful tips to help you make the most of it:
1. Shoes are key. No one wants to finish their first attempts at exercise with feet covered in blisters so wear comfortable shoes that won’t rub, pinch or scrape at your feet. Trainers are a great idea and most people will be more comfortable walking for exercise in flats.
2. Be well equipped. Depending on where you’re planning to walk to, and how long for, you might need to take some supplies with you. Food, water and a waterproof if there’s a chance of rain, as well as sunscreen in the heat.
3. Start small. If you want to break up your walking into ten minute chunks, or even just a few minutes at a time to begin with, then that’s fine. Build up to walking for longer periods of time as your fitness improves rather than trying to achieve too much too soon.
4. Integrate walking into your life. Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to fitness so think about those times when you might be able to introduce your new pastime. Walk to work instead of taking the bus, don’t take the car for short journeys, try walking with your children when you take them to school rather than using the car and try joining a walking group if you want to make it into a new hobby.
5. Put some thought into it. Vary your walking routes, pace and locations and try getting family or friends to come along for the more exciting options. Introduce some hills into your walks, experiment with walking to a further away location even if you get public transport back, and set yourself some personal goals to keep motivated.
Those looking for a great reason to get out and walk can do it to fundraise for the Heart of England Trust Charity. If you would like to find out how you can get involved and get advice on fundraising, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 424 3838.