When considering exercises that are good for us, there are so many options; for general health, muscle and joint health and for rehabilitation…… As well as recommendations and talk of pilates, yoga, swimming, cycling, and even personal training, it can be hard to know where to start!
Well, how about plain and simple walking! It really has no limitations to where and when you can do it! Weekdays, weekends and holidays and it can involve all ages of the family.
Walking can be made easy – from one destination to another, around a park, to and from school, work, the local shops and more! And it’s free! Walking doesn’t require any previous training or accessories – and you can go at your own pace!
Many studies and have shown benefits of walking daily for 20-30 minutes can:
- Increase fitness levels by increasing your cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness,
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
- Help control high blood pressure that can causes strokes
- Decrease likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by around 60%
- Help lose weight
- People who walk are 24% less likely to develop dementia
- Help tone up muscles,
- Help improve posture
- Increases vitamin D levels if walking outdoors
- Help strengthen bones and therefore help with conditions such as Osteopenia and Osteoporosis
- Increase energy levels as it increases circulation and oxygen supply to your whole body and hence makes you feel more alert
- Increase positive endorphins in your body which makes you feel good overall, and therefore decreases stress and anxiety
- Help with lower back pain
- Help with chronic pain conditions
- Walking can reduce pain and stiffness for people with arthritis by up to 24-32%
- Help improve balance
Did you know that you would be considered sedentary (inactive) if you walk less than 5000 steps per day? So lets get walking!!
Some lovely local areas to walk that we recommend include:
- The Royal Botanical Gardens
- St Kilda Botanical Gardens
- Albert Park Lake
- Along Chapel St in Windsor and Prahran – enjoy the window shopping! And maybe stop at a café or two
- Along the Yarra River and Alexandra Avenue Boulevard
- Along Brighton, Elwood and St Kilda beaches – on the boardwalk or to make it more challenging walk on the sand http://stkildamelbourne.com.au/things-to-do-see/beach-outdoors/
- Walk through PrahranMarket http://www.prahranmarket.com.au/ and see what beautiful produce takes your fancy!
- On a Saturday check on Hank Marvin Market in Alma Park in St Kilda East http://www.mymarketsvic.com.au/directory/hank-marvin-market–alma-park-east-1187.html
- Or have a look at where to walk locally that may inspire you! http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Melbourne/Destinations/Prahran-and-Windsor
Or even see if there is a local walking group which will help encourage walking into your life or check out these destinations!! http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/visit/popular-activities/walking
If you can’t get to any of the above, some great tips to help make walking part of your daily routine can include:
- Walk to the train station instead of driving,
- Walk with a friend at the same time every week or just walk with a friend whenever you can so it becomes a social activity and see how quickly the time goes!
- Listen to music as you walk – this may even quicken your pace!
- Take the stairs instead of a lift
- Walk to your local shops
- Walk an extra block instead of getting on/off public transport sooner or park an extra block away from where you are going
- Walk around the block once you get home from work!
- Walk up escalators rather than stand on them
- Walk around while talking on the phone instead of sitting at your desk or on the couch
- Walk during your lunch break – even if it is around the block as some walking is better than none!
- Purchase a pedometer to help count your daily steps and set goals to reach per day or week to help improve and increase your steps!
Walking for 30 minutes a day should be done comfortably and not make you out of breath! You should be able to talk and walk! If you have a medical condition, please check with your doctor or health professional before starting a new exercise regime for your health and safety.
And overall, enjoy – trust yourself and your body and happy walking and exploring!