Walking improves general health and well-being

The importance of regular exercise and a good diet is well-known and both are documented as aids to a long and healthy life. While most of us can manage the diet side of things perfectly well and fit our nutritional needs around our lifestyle, when it comes to doing the same with exercise many of us are sadly lacking.

Contrary to popular belief, exercise does not have to be regimented or expensive, requiring us to sign up for numerous classes or hours at the gym; one of the simplest, best and cheapest forms of regular exercise is walking, something most of us do every day without even thinking about it.

Walking can easily be fitted into a daily routine by most, whether you are a stay-at-home Mum, a busy professional or a retiree. It can be done with others, alone, or even with your dog, and doesn’t require a personal trainer. It improves lung and heart function and strengthens the muscles in the lower body, and because walking is a load-bearing activity it can help with poor bone density, making it particularly beneficial for older people. In short, we can all benefit from walking.

There are many opportunities in the day to take a walk and it doesn’t have to be chore. Starting a walking programme is as easy as walking to the local shops and walking the children to school rather than driving or taking a bus. Begin by taking a walk in your lunch break and see the increase in your mental performance at work during the afternoon, or walk in the evening and experience a much better quality of sleep.

Walking in open countryside or the local park adds another pleasant dimension to your exercise. But while you take in the beauty of the local flora and fauna along your chosen route, focusing on the quality and distance of your walking can dramatically benefit your wellbeing and increase fitness.

After a few weeks of easing yourself into the habit, try to walk more briskly and add some uphill stretches into your route for extra benefit. This will help burn off calories and increase cardiovascular fitness, and once a good level has been reached, try power walking at as fast a pace as you can manage during the middle section of your walk. Enjoy striding out, getting fresh air in your lungs and appreciating your surroundings as you go along.

You will soon find that you start to look forward to your daily walk, and you will certainly notice the difference in your general health.  At this point you may consider joining a rambling club to enjoy your new found exercise with others. Ramblers meet for regular walks in stunning surroundings, and tackle walks for all levels of fitness. You may even find you make some new friends to share your new exercise regime with.  Details of these clubs can be found on the internet or at local libraries.

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