Walk your way to better health

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It’s free, it’s invigorating, it’s recommended by medical professionals, its health and fitness benefits are many, and it has been around since the dawn of time. Want to improve your wellness but short on both time and money for trainers and gyms? Just put on a pair of comfortable shoes and start walking.

A regular daily walking regimen can lower the risks of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and circulation problems, to name just a few.

What do you need to get started and to keep at it? Here are some tips and some reasons for both.

Motivation

According to the Health Department, more than half of Australia’s adults fall below the recommended guideline of getting the moderate exercise of 150 minutes, or 75 minutes of a rigorous workout, each week. Motivation is one of the biggest barriers. Push past that mental barricade by setting aside time for a walk each day. Whether it’s early morning or early evening, the time of day doesn’t matter as long as it suits you. If you have a regular place for that walk, such as a place you find visually appealing or relaxing, even better.

The company of like-minded walkers

Sharing the activity with others is another motivator. Across Australia, the Heart Foundation has 1,128 walking groups from big cities to small towns. More than 300 of these are specialty groups, for example, single mothers or cardiac rehabilitation patients or cultural groups. The benefit of group walking is psychological as well as physical. You are meeting new people which can lead to expanded social opportunities and is particularly uplifting for those battling the blues or suffering from loneliness.

Improves the health of your body, your brain, your heart, and your soul

When you are walking, more oxygen-rich blood is needed by your muscles. In response, your heart rate rises, pumping more of that blood to every part of your body, including your brain. University studies, such as the 2010 report from the University of Illinois, have found that this increases the brain’s learning and memory functions. The physical activity lifts mood, improves breathing, and The Heart Foundation recognises walking as having an important role in fighting our country’s biggest killer – heart disease.

In a complex, busy and demanding world, taking the time out for walking is an easy, non-demanding, vital way to healthy living.

Photo: Walk by PabloEvans licensed under Creative commons 4

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