It’s easy, it’s free – and it’s really good for you. We highlight some persuasive reasons to find your pace and start walking.
1 It’s the best energy booster
Studies have shown that if you’re tired, working out at a pace that measures about six out of 10 for exertion is the rate that makes you feel alert, without sapping your energy reserves and leaving you feeling fatigued. A brisk walk measures about six out of 10 for effort.
2 Your breasts will thank you!
Women who walk after menopause lower their risk of breast cancer – even if they do absolutely no other form of exercise – according to research by the American Cancer Society. Walking for at least an hour a day cuts the risk by 14%, possibly because it regulates levels of hormones that can encourage breast tumours to grow.
3 Walkers are less likely to quit
When scientists compare how often exercisers quit their routines, they found that 80% of walkers will stick to their programmes, compared with just 30% of runners. Reasons include the fact that walking doesn’t hurt so much during or after, and it has a lower risk of injury.
4 It helps fight major diseases
Walking is as effective as running in fighting diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, according to US researchers. As long as you burn the same kilojoules as a runner, you get the same benefits. That means walking for a bit longer – or a bit faster. To increase pace, try pumping your arms as you move. The faster they move, the faster your legs go.
5 Walking feeds your brain
According to Italian research, people aged 65-plus who walk more than others reduce their risk of developing dementia by 27%. It is believed that increased blood flow, brought on by exercise, helps to nourish the brain.
6 …And quells food cravings
Aside from burning 1 250 kilojoules an hour, a brisk 15-minute walk cuts the amount of sweet stuff people consume, according to research by the University of Exeter in the UK. Researchers believe that snacking on high-kilojoule foods, like chocolate, can become a mindless habit that leads to weight gain. But, a short walk helped people reduce their intake by half.
7 It reduces menopause symptoms
If you’re facing menopause, get your walking shoes on and you could reduce the severity of your symptoms, particularly those related to stress and anxiety. About 40 minutes’ walking, five times a week, is the point at which the benefit kicks in.
8 Walkers have stronger bones for life
Every time your feet hit the floor while you walk, your bones get a jolt that strengthens them. No wonder women who walk at least 1,5km every day have a higher bone density after menopause than those who walk less than that. Researchers at Tufts University in the US say that walkers lose less bone from day to day. Remember, you don’t need fancy walking shoes. Any supportive trainer is perfect for walking in.