Walking is a great way to get fitter, healthier and lose body fat. It also has a whole host of other benefits going for it. According to the NHS, regular walking can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. Furthermore, walking can lead to some great times and fantastic adventures with new, like-minded friends. According to the old Chinese proverb, ‘A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.’ Here are 5 Reasons to take your first step on the road to better health and fitness simply by walking more.
Walking is better for long term health than running
If your aim is overall health and longevity rather than entering events like a 10k or marathon, then walking at a moderate pace is better for you than running, according to some medical research. Also, it can be gentler on the knees than pounding concrete for long periods of time. Start off slowly and work up to 10,000 steps a day. Invest in a pedometer or a fitbit to track your activity and it’ll spur you on to achieve more.
Walking is free
It costs nothing to get out into the open air and simply walk. If you’re just starting off, you don’t need to buy any special gear. A comfortable pair of shoes or trainers, some layered clothing and a decent waterproof jacket is pretty much all you’ll need to get you going.
Walking allows you to enjoy your surroundings
If you’ve ever taken up running, you may have found that you either focus on beating your PB time, or losing yourself in your thoughts in a bid to simply get the job done. On the other hand, walking at a moderate pace shouldn’t involve you trying to get to a certain point faster than the day before. Instead, just take the time to enjoy your surroundings. If you live in town, look up now and again. Not only will you see some amazing architecture you’ve never noticed before, you’ll also be able to avoid the pigeon droppings when walking under a low-level bridge!
Hiking it up a gear
After you’ve started walking in town you may well get the urge to step things up a gear and hiking is perfect for getting away from it all – even for a few hours. Coastal walks are perfect if you like to walk on flat ground but it’s great to get into the country every now and again. Walking among trees – the Japanese call it ‘forest bathing’ – can give tremendous health benefits with science to back it up. Then there are the hills and mountains if you fancy building up your calf muscles and glutes while really getting your heart pumping. In Scotland, where I live, there are a huge number of hills and mountains to tackle.
A Munro is a mountain over 3,000 feet high (of which Ben Nevis is the highest) although if you only go for Munros you’ll miss out on some great smaller mountains such as Corbetts which are between 2.500 and 3,000 feet. The views from Scottish mountains are well worth the effort but you need to invest in some decent footwear and clothing and make sure you go with an experienced ‘Munro Bagger’ who can lead the way – and take you to the best pub for a well-earned drink and a bite to eat when you come back down.
Walking holidays and challenges
Thousands of people go abroad for their holidays but very few take the time to explore their own country. A walking holiday is a great way to see the sites of Great Britain and Ireland coupled with sumptuous local food. Absolute Escapes are experts in tailor-made walking holidays across the British Isles. You can experience walks like the West Highland Way and Wainwright’s Coast to Coast but with all the little details taken care of.
With a bit more practice you can even enter a walking challenge to combine your new-found passion with raising money for your chosen charity. How does a stroll across a section of the Sahara Desert appeal to you? Or maybe a hike to Everest Base Camp? A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. You can start yours tomorrow with a moderate stroll around the block and see what happens from there.