Walking for health
Many health professionals consider the simple act of going for a walk as a way for the average person to increase their overall health and wellbeing.
The Wimmera, southern Mallee and Grampians have walking tracks and trails aplenty, be they for arduous treks through national and state parks and other wilderness areas or for casual strolls along municipal pathways.
Research suggests 30 minutes of walking every day, and in some cases even less, can increase cardiovascular pulmonary fitness, reduce fat, boost muscles and endurance, strengthen bones and help with mentalhealth illnesses.
Walking is a low-impact weight-bearing exercise that can reduce the risks of heart-disease and stroke, help with the management of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
It can also help with simple things such as balance and movement.
Victoria’s Betterhealth Channel encourages people to walk briskly for 30 minutes a day to get the best from the experience.
It describes ‘brisk’ as being able to talk while walking but not being able to sing and perhaps puffing slightly.
If it is too hard to walk for 30 minutes at one time, the recommendation is to do regular 10-minute bouts three times a day and gradually build up to longer sessions.
Walking with friends or groups can turn a walk into as much a social occasion as a workout.
Following are suggestions to help get the most from a walk and build it into a routine:
Take the stairs instead of a lift; walk to work or shops; walk the dog; make sure you have comfortable and appropriate footwear and clothing; encourage people to walk with you; find a pastime or casual employment that involves walking such as house-to-house newspaper and pamphlet deliveries.
Consult your doctor for advice before embarking on any program if you are aged 40 or older, are overweight or haven’t exercised for a long time.
Many council offices and information centres have detailed information about walking trails, tracks and opportunities across the region.
Picture perfect Mackenzie
Falls in the Grampians. Picture: ROBERTO SEBA