Whilst we are in this Covid-19 lockdown, it occurred to me that I am probably doing more daily exercise than I was doing and eating better overall. I’m not doing anything strenuous but I am cleaning the house more, sorting the garden, the odd online zumba class and going for my daily dog walks with my son in his carrier attached to me too (I feel like this is a good weight lifting!). I’m not doing high intensity workouts, but I feel like I am feeling better in myself through this light daily exercise.
It’s not overly complicated or strenuous, but walking does have so many benefits that I think more people should be aware of. Whether you’ve been out of exercise for a while, post-pregnancy or a recent injury, walking is for everyone. So whatever your age or ability, now is a great time to get outdoors and just start walking during your daily exercise as per the government guidance – even if it’s just a half hour walks each day, you’ll start to feel better for it, both physically and mentally.
Here are some ways in which taking walks is good for you:
1. Lose weight
If like me you’re looking to lose weight then walking is a great starting place. Whilst it’s not a fast burner, slow and steady often wins the race, so stay consistent and you could shake off the pounds. On average walking 1 mile you’re likely to burn around 100 calories. So keep it up, go everyday and over some time you’ll start to notice the benefits.
2. Good for your joints
Whilst walking miles and miles may have some negatives, actually walking a sensible distance each day can actually improve your mobility of your joints. Keeping them regularly active will keep them in motion and help to strengthen the muscles around your joints to get added support to that area.
3. Feel better about yourself
Losing weight and feeling better about yourself, for me at least, comes as one. With the pounds coming off you’ll start to notice maybe your clothes fit better or you have more energy to maybe start doing some more physical exercise. So embrace the changes in yourself, no matter how small.
4. Mental health benefits
Just getting outside can have a massive positive impact on your mental health. Exercising outside will give you endorphins, making you feel happier but it will also modify your nervous system so any anger or hostility will also decrease. If I don’t get out in the day, I think I start going stir-crazy! I really do think it makes all the difference, so if you can take that time out – do it.
5. Get a better nights sleep
Light exercise during the day such as walking can ensure you get a better nights sleep. If I’m not active enough in the day then I just feel rubbish and don’t get a decent sleep either. So this is definitely true for me – and plus for me it means the dog gets tired out too, which as the old saying goes, a tired schnauzer is a happy schnauzer.
6. Heart health
If you can manage at least 30 minutes of walking each days for at least five days a week, then it has been proven to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease. If you increase your speed, duration, distance or incline each day then you may be able to reduce your risk even more. So it’s definitely worth checking out those routes around your home and finding different walks to try that could have increased benefits for you.
7. Boost your immune system
Right now more than ever, we need to make sure our immune systems are in top tip condition to fight off any viruses and colds that come our way. When you go for a walk, or do exercise, you release antibodies and white blood cells, which assist your body’s defence system.
8. Good for your blood sugar
Regular walking can bring down your blood glucose, which is particularly important if you have diabetes.
9. Reduce indigestion and heartburn
If you get regular indigestion or heartburn, then walking is a great way to ease your digestion. You know when you eat too much and are feeling totally full after a meal (especially on a Sunday after a large Sunday roastie?!) well wait a half hour and then head out for a walk. You’ll feel so much better for it after.
10. Boost bone strength
Significant and positive effects have been seen with walking and this improving bone strength. We need to keep our bones strong and healthy by doing exercise like walking, running or dancing in order to avoid things like fractures, spine shrinkage and osteoporosis.
11. Time to catch up with loved ones
Either use the time on your walk to have a proper catch up with your family in your home, or give a best friend or long distance family member a call. This Covid-19 pandemic is meaning we are increasingly isolated, but using technology we can revert this and feel like part of a wider community.
12. Up your creativity
If like me you work in Marketing, or something as creative, then you’re going to need that creativity to maintain your fresh ideas. Taking a walk can really inspire us and boost our creative output.
13. Slash your stress
Walking is one of the most effective ways to calm down and release stress. A 10 minute workout can be as effective as an hour long workout, to reduce anxiety, depression or other stresses. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and moving works this out of our system. So walking can prove to really make a big impact on your stress levels, even if it is just a quick 10 minutes around the block.
14. Save money – free exercise!
The gym, pool or classes can be expensive and really add up. The benefit of walking is that it’s free – so anyone can get involved in it.
So get checking out your local walks near you – whether that be round the block, a local park or nature route and in return enjoy the benefits that walking can bring you.
Remember, stay home and stay safe – follow government guidelines during this Covid-19 pandemic.