Why walking for 30 mins a day can change your life

Research at the University of Cambridge this year found that workers who barely moved from their desk for eight hours were 60% more likely to die prematurely.

That’s a startling fact! Here’s another one.

Just 25 minutes of brisk walking a day could add up to seven years to your life OK let’s settle with this one – it’s a bit more appealing.

I don’t want to fill this blog post with factoids but there are just a few worth highlighting to help explain why researchers are making these claims. Here’s what The Times alone reported last week for 30 minutes of moderate to brisk walking a day:

• 30 mins of moderate/brisk-paced walking every day can cut the risk of a fatal heart attack by half, particularly for those in their fifties and sixties

• Walking is as good as running for reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol and for fighting heart disease – and some say it’s even better

• Walking helps protect against diabetes type 2, arthritis, depression, memory loss and even Alzheimers

• It can offset the negative side-effects of ageing – so three miles a day can improve knee arthritis by building muscle strength and flexibility

• Last year, another study showed that people who walked a lot had lower BMIs and smaller waists than those who took part in more vigorous activities such as jogging.

In short, walking is fast becoming known as one of the best ways of combating the negative effects emerging from our increasingly sedentary lifestyles - and the more walking you do the better it is for you.

How to increase the amount of walking you do

Recently 10,000 steps a day have been given as the daily goal – this equates to about 2 hours walking or five miles. This might seem like a lot if you are starting out on your walking journey – if it does then just walk a distance that you feel is appropriate for your fitness levels. This might be just 5 minutes. Whatever, just start and you’ll find that the distances will increase with time. Be safe though – pick a good location and if you would be happier to know that you are fit enough to start walking do go and see your GP first and ask.

For the fitter walkers 10,000 steps might not be enough and maybe a daily goal of 11000 – 12000 steps is more appropriate. Then, if you want to turn your walk into a workout add in the following:

• Add short bursts of speed Once you have been walking at your normal pace for 10 mins to warm up start adding in a faster walking pace in 30 secs bursts, building this up 60 secs bursts. Aim to do this several times over a 20 minute period and then finish the final 10 minutes of your walk at a slower pace to cool down.

• Find some hills This is where the intensity of your walk will really start to increase. The calorie burn can rise by up to 60% compared to walking on the flatter ground. Hills are also great for strengthening muscle particularly in the buttocks, calves, quads and hamstrings. Start off with walking at your normal pace for 10 mins to warm up then walk a local hill for 20 minutes or find an undulating route. Cool down in the last 10 minutes of your walk by walking at a slower pace on the flat.

• Increase the distance and intensity of the walk each time ‘Firstly, build up to 5 miles (around 90 minutes or 10,000 steps) of moderate walking and then progress from there’ say’s Greg Whyte, professor of sport and exercise at Liverpool University. The longer you walk or the more intense it is the better it is for you and you need to keep increasing this to avoid hitting a fitness plateau. Push yourself – the harder you walk, the less distance you will need to get the benefits of walking

• Try Nordic walking This is the ultimate in gaining fitness from walking. Here you use the large muscles in your upper body, as well as those in your lower body, to propel yourself forward using 90% of your body’s muscles. The result of this is 40% greater calorie burn, greater cardio-respiratory fitness and strengthening key muscles as you go. It’s an amazing exercise and great for rehabilitation too.

What do I like about walking?

For me walking is absolutely central to my wellbeing and happiness. I can eat almost anything I want without putting on the pounds. I find walking meditative, always feeling great at the end of the walk even if I have started with a head full of worries. It connects me to my surroundings I know what the seasons are doing, I love the big Wiltshire skies; the breeze on my face invigorates me and I love chatting to the people I meet on the trails. We are all born to be fit. Let’s start walking to make the most of what we have.

Written by: Lisa Drewe on 4 Oct 2016, 14:30 PM



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