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Walking

Introduction

Why choose walking as an exercise among others exercises?

Walking is the simplest form of exercise to execute, it is free and appropriate for anyone of any fitness level that can generate great benefits. The father of medicine, Hipocrates, said, “Walking is man’s best medicine”. Evidence shows that walking as an exercise will bring about very positive results for all individuals, in particular for those who are Diabetic, Hypertensive or having heart disease.

What are the effects of walking and how will it benefit?

  1. Walking will reduce the risk of contracting Type 2 Diabetes. Just by walking for 150 minutes in a week and reducing your weight, you can reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 58%.
  2. Walking will strengthen your heart. This exercise has also the ability to improve your cardiovascular efficiency. The High Density Cholesterol levels will increase. This in return will cause a reduction in the Low Density Cholesterol levels. Individuals who walk more than 1.6 kilometers a day or for more than 3 hours a week can reduce their risk of heart disease by 35%. According to the Stroke Association of UK, blood pressure will be under control and this will reduce the risk of having a stroke by 27%.
  3. Individuals who walk regularly have better cognitive function than those who do not. The risk of dementia is reduced by up to 40%. Research from the UK confirms that senior citizens who walk more than 6 miles a week can avoid their brain size from shrinking and this will then help to preserve their memory as they progress further into age.
  4. Postmenopausal women who walked more than 1 mile a day were found to have a greater bone density. This weight bearing exercise activity will also strengthen the hip and knee joints.
  5. Walking for 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week for 12 weeks can reduce the symptoms of depression among individuals suffering from depression by 47%. In short, walking can increase the feel good endorphins and elevate moods.
  6. A lot of research has proven that walking reduces the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer by 18%.

What do I need to do to start walking exercise?

 You need to get a good pair of comfortable shoes. It is highly recommended that you get a pair of walking shoes. Other type of shoes that could be used are ‘Cross Training’ shoes or Court Shoes (shoes for badminton or tennis).

Wear comfortable clothing. Tight clothes are not advisable. If you are planning for a long walk, bring along a bottle of water. 

If you are a beginner, start walking at a slow speed. Gradually you may increase your speed of walking.  When tired, slow down. You may start exercising for 10 or 15 minutes. Increase your walk time by 5 minutes every week until you are walking for not less than 30 minutes. A good walk program is of 40 – 45 minutes.  

To obtain optimal benefits from your walk, you will need to walk faster than your normal speed. Your body will sweat and your pulse rate will increase. It should increase to more than 120 beats per minute. 

Continue the activity as a daily routine or as alternate day basis. Your discipline will determine your success. Let this activity become a habit of your daily living.

On average an individual walks about 3000 to 4000 steps a day. You are advised to walk up to 10,000 steps a day. A Pedometer can be used to keep count of the number of steps for the day. Set a target and start walking to achieve it. Walk with a friend or a family member or even in a group. This can be fun and promote healthy socialization.   

This exercise routine can be done anywhere. However, choose a safe route. If you are walking by the road, walk on your right side, facing the traffic.

To increase the intensity of your work out, bend your arms at the elbows and swing your arms while walking. This will increase your speed. Many individuals hold on to dumbbells while walking to further increase the intensity. This will also strengthen the muscles of your upper body.     

Make sure that you are walking for not less than 5 times a week. If it rains you can walk on the spot at home or walk rounds in a hall. The treadmill machine is another good alternative.

   

Reference

  1. Hannah Ebelthite; tescoliving.com/…/top-10-health-benefits-of-walking
  2. Images ; goodwillwalk.com.my , medimission.com/walk your way to health
  3. startwalkingnow.org/whystart_benefits_walking.jsp
  4. betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/…/Walking_for_good_health
Last Reviewed : 18 April 2017
Writer : Daaljit Singh a/l Harbachan Singh
Translator : Daaljit Singh a/l Harbachan Singh
Accreditor : Se To Phui Lin