Probably the easiest and cheapest form of exercise to do regularly, as long as you are reasonably fit and able, is walking. Just a thirty-minute daily walk will make the world of difference to your health and well being in so many ways.
And as you get used to that daily thirty-minute exercise, you will find yourself able to go longer and longer so that in time you could even include a five mile walk every week or so.
Here are our top ten “walking for life” health and lifestyle benefits
And these benefits do not even include the fresh air, the exposure to sunlight for topping up vitamin D levels
and sense of freedom experienced.
1. Preventing or even reversing diabetes type two symptoms.
For example, a recent British study found that people with a family history of diabetes who walked briskly and regularly, or performed some other type of moderate to vigorous activity on a routine basis, improved their insulin sensitivity. Weight loss too would be a contributing factor to reversing this disease.
2. Improving your lack lustre libido
The term hot blooded when applied to physical attraction is not used lightly because physical fitness (achieved through exercise and of course that includes regular walking) can increase blood flow, making sex more pleasurable since sexual arousal for both men
involves increased blood flow to the genital area. At the same time, exercise boosts endorphins to lift your mood, increase your energy levels and of course your libido.
3. Saving the costs of a gym membership
Or even the expense of owning and using a bike. Using just your feet (and a bit of shoe leather) must be the most cost effective way of getting your share of exercise.
4. Getting to know your surroundings
And further afield as well. If you walk an area, you cannot help but understand it better and learn your way around. The drawback could be passing motorists who might frequently stop and ask you for directions!
5. Managing stress and preventing anxiety
Researchers have found that one of the best ways to relieve the stresses of the day is to simply "walk them away" because walking briskly really does calm you down by sparking nerve cells in the brain that relax the senses. Soothing neurons in the brain are triggered. When they are then exposed to a stressor, these neurons calm them down. You can read more about this research here.
6. Reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia and arthritis
You might be fit enough to walk and exercise normally if you suffer from arthritis
or fibromyalgia but for those with joint injuries in the lower body or back, using the method known as Nordic walking (by using two trekking poles) to help with balance and stability while making walking easier and providing a great workout. Trekking poles can help absorb some of the landing impact with each step, particularly when going downhill. The poles help keep the body upright and symmetrical, improving balance.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition
that involves considerable pain and discomfort. Walking can help with these symptoms. One small study found that women aged thirty two to seventy years old who walked for sixty minutes, performed light exercises, and stretched three times a week for eighteen weeks reported significant improvements in walking and mental capacity while feeling less tired and depressed.
7. Becoming less reliant on prescription medications
Unfortunately, it has become easier for us to pop a pill than to make the effort of lifestyle changes - including regular exercise such as walking. It is well known that many will find making such changes to be too difficult and, the longer we neglect to do so, the more reliant we become on pharmaceutical drugs with all the considerable side effects that these medications can bring.
8. Boosting the brain and memory
A healthy body creates the ideal conditions for a healthy mind. Many systems of the body, from the cardiovascular to the immune system, benefit from regular workouts and of course the brain benefits as well.
9. Helping to prevent or recover from cancer, heart disease or strokes
The Journal of Clinical Oncology reports research by Yale University that women who walk regularly after being diagnosed with breast cancer have a forty five per cent greater chance of survival than those who are inactive. Another study, this time from the University of South Carolina, found that walking briskly for just thirty minutes, five days a week can significantly lower the risk of heart disease or suffering a stroke.
10. Losing weight
Combined with sensible eating, regular walking will inevitably lead to losing weight. If you add that magical thirty minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine, you could burn about one hundred and fifty more calories a day. To lose a pound a week, you generally need to eliminate five hundred calories a day. Of course, the more you walk and the quicker your pace, the more calories you'll burn.
And the future?
Once you have got into the habit of your daily walk, I am sure you will find there are many other benefits too! One could be improving your sensory awareness – you will notice the sights and sounds around you whether it be wildlife perhaps right on your doorstep, pretty neighbourhood gardens or unsightly litter that has been left lying there.
Start with thirty minutes but if you can “up” it to forty minutes, which equates to two miles or five thousand steps, even better!
You might even go on to enjoy actual Walking Holidays which have become very popular…