Walking. It is something you do every day without even thinking about it, yet it is often overlooked as an effective form of exercise. Walking provides excellent benefits for both your mental and physical health; building stamina, burning excess calories and helping your heart to a healthier path are just a few of the physical benefits. Outdoor exercise remains one of the few essential activities that Britons can do during the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown.
Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. Just 30 minutes each day can increase your cardiovascular fitness, reduce excess body fat, strengthen bones and boost muscle endurance and power. It can also reduce risks of developing conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis and also offer the chance to clear your mind of the stresses of the day. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and uplift your mood, so next time you’re out with the dog or walking to the shops, take some deep breaths and mindfully acknowledge the sights, sounds and smells around you.
If you are new to walking or not very active, nobody expects you to walk for miles straight away. Gradually increase the distance and duration as your body begins to build stamina. A distance that you struggle with at first will soon seem easy!
Use your walk as a time to bring your household together. Schedule it into your routine and soon it will seem normal.
Are you struggling to get started? Here are our walking tips and ways to stay motivated:
With technology advancing at great speed, there are so many new ways to motivate you. In the modern world you are never alone, so why not find a podcast to listen to or create a playlist of your favourite songs. Walking whilst listening to music or a podcast can really take your mind off the effort and make time go by quicker. Music can also help to get you into a rhythm and move that little bit faster!
Maybe a bit of competition is what you need? There are plenty of apps where you can compete with others. These are often linked with pedometers and fitness trackers, a great way to spur you on to finish your walk or push that little bit further, as well as track your progress.
Finally, you need to feel the part. It could be worth investing in some new walking gear if you are going to make this a regular thing, especially some trainers!
The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit. Think of ways to include walking in your daily routine such as:
• Walk to work (if you’re still working away from home)
• Walk to the local shops instead of driving
• Use the stairs instead of the lift
• Go for a walk after dinner with family
Don’t forget to be safe. Take it at your own pace, you aren’t expected to be able to walk miles within the first few months. Drink plenty of fluids, remember to wear reflective clothing when walking in the dark and stick to well-lit areas.
What are the current rules when it comes to exercise in the UK?
1. Daily exercise, including walking, running, cycling, tending to an allotment or doing yoga is allowed.
2. You are allowed to drive somewhere to take your exercise. The guidance says, ‘it is lawful to drive for exercise.’ However, ‘Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise’ is also deemed ‘not likely to be reasonable’. The rule of thumb? You’re allowed to drive somewhere to go for a walk or run as long as you spend much more time walking than you do driving.
3. Exercising more than once per day is likely to be allowed if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for needing to leave your home.
4. You are allowed to sit and take a break from exercise, say, on a bench or sitting down in a park. However, this must be for a short time only and, as before, you must spend markedly more time exercising than resting.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing have published a document that clarifies the do’s and don’ts of exercising outdoors. With the lockdown extended by a minimum of three weeks (from April 16), this will be welcome news for people who are not sure what they can and cannot do. You can read it here.