Among all the hype for expensive gyms, personal trainers and trendy keep fit programmes, it’s easy to forget that the very best exercise costs almost nothing and is available to almost everyone.
According to research by the LSE, people who regularly walk at a brisk pace for more than 30 minutes at a time are slimmer and fitter than those preferring gym workouts, swimming or cycling. Previous studies had also shown that walking can be effective at warding off disease, lowering cholesterol, reducing blood pressure and countering stress, anxiety and depression.
To get the full benefits, you need to walk for 30 minutes, five times a week, at a pace that makes you slightly breathless and lightly perspiring. Try to walk around 10,000 steps per day – most people walk only 3,000-4,000 steps. Start the walk slowly, speed up, then ease off as you get towards the end. A few gentle stretches before and after to warm up and cool down are also beneficial.
10,000 steps may seem a lot, but simply leaving the car at home and walking instead of catching the bus for short distances can help enormously, as can using the stairs instead of a lift or escalator. However, nothing beats walking in the country at weekend, a stroll in the park or (if you’re lucky enough to live by the sea as I do) a walk on a beach.
And after all – it’s what your body was designed to do!
©David Lawrence Preston, 6.1.18
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