Benefits of a fitness walking programme
There are many benefits of talking a walk. Walking can help you achieve things that may be important to you, like reducing stress levels, feeling better about life, having a clearer focus, and improving your memory. Walking has also been shown to improve the function of your heart and lungs; it enables the body to level out blood sugars, creating better eating habits; and it reduces stress improving quality of life.
Walking as a form of exercise is a great place to begin to improve your health and wellbeing.
Walking to improve mental health
Being in the outdoors improves your mood, especially when walking in green spaces and woodlands. Observing nature has a positive effect on the mood chemicals in the brain and improves stress levels. Plan for a walk in a park or other public open space where there are different forms of nature, ponds, woodlands, and formal gardens. Take some time to sit and watch the wildlife around you. Being outside for a period of time during the day allows you to take time out of your routines.
Having a dog to walk can help you engage in the activity, as there is a purpose and focus to you getting out. If you don’t have your own dog, then there are national schemes that allow you to help others walk their pet, such as Borrow my doggy.
Walking to improve physical fitness
In addition to the general health benefits, walking can also improve your cardiovascular health and assist with weight loss.
- General health benefits - If you are walking for general health benefits, try to walk 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, at a "talking" pace. "Talking" pace means you have elevated breathing, but you can still carry a conversation
- Cardiovascular health - To improve cardiovascular fitness, you should walk three to four days a week, for 20 to 30 minutes, at a very fast pace. At this pace, you are breathing hard but not gasping for air
- Weight loss - If you are walking for weight loss you should walk a minimum of five days a week, for 45 to 60 minutes, at a brisk pace.
For more advice about beginning a fitness walking programme, visit the Walking site.
Are you doing enough physical activity for your age?
NHS Choices has guidelines to find out if you're doing enough physical activity for your age. There are guidelines for the following age groups:
- Early childhood (under 5 years old)
- Young people (5-18 years old)
- Adults (19-64 years old)
- Older adults (65 and over)
Find out more on Get fit for free.