Walking is free and just about the simplest way of getting more active, losing weight and becoming healthier. It is suitable for people of all fitness levels and ages, and the only equipment you need is a pair of shoes. The risk of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, stroke, and asthma has been shown to be reduced by regular walking.
Wear trainers or shoes that provide adequate support, are comfortable and do not rub your feet. Your clothing should be loose-fitting and allow free movement. Thin layers are better than heavy clothes.
Start slowly and gradually build up your walking regime. According to the Guardian, brisk walking is better than running for reducing your risk of heart disease, but you do need to build up to a moderately brisk walk in order to gain health benefits.
Begin by walking slowly and build up your pace gradually. Try to walk 10,000 steps a day, breaking it down into ten-minute chunks if this helps. You should reach a pace to raise your heartbeat and sweat a little and slow down again towards the end of the walk, finishing with some gentle stretches to increase your flexibility.
If you make walking a habit, it becomes easier to maintain, so try to include it in your daily routine. You could walk part of the way to work, walk to school with the children, use the stairs rather than a lift or arrange a regular walk with friends.
Walking for Health has a search facility for finding organized health walks in your area, so why not join one of these? In addition to getting fitter and losing weight, you will make new friends and discover new places to walk. There are also free guided walks in all the UK’s national parks in the holidays.
If you set yourself a goal to work up to walking 10,000 steps every day, you will find it becomes easier all the time, and it can be fun to monitor your progress with a pedometer.