PUT YOUR BEST FOOT

Step into the New Year with con­fi­dence with our low down on walking for health

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Walking -

Whether you are young or old, fit or un­fit, most of us would ben­e­fit from tak­ing more ex­er­cise – and one of the cheap­est and most ac­ces­si­ble forms of all is wait­ing for you just out­side your front door...

“The great thing about walking is that it’s suit­able for al­most ev­ery­one; what­ever your age or abil­ity,” says Des de Moor, Ram­blers Se­nior Ev­ery­day Walking Of­fi­cer. “You can walk wher­ever you are and what­ever your bud­get, mak­ing it one of the most ac­ces­si­ble ( and pop­u­lar) forms of ex­er­cise around.

“Walking is also a fun ac­tiv­ity that peo­ple of all ages can do to­gether; en­abling you to spend qual­ity time with friends and fam­ily, from chil­dren to grand­par­ents alike.”

HEALTH MAT­TERS

One of the key ben­e­fits of walking is the pos­i­tive af­fect it can have on our well­be­ing and health.

“Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, such as walking, can help re­duce the risk of heart disease and stroke, high blood pres­sure, os­teoarthri­tis, obe­sity, the most com­mon type of di­a­betes and even many can­cers,” says Des. “Ex­er­cis­ing out­doors is also really good for your men­tal health; help­ing to clear your mind and boost your mood.

“When com­bined with a healthy, balanced diet, walking is an ex­cel­lent way to con­trol your weight by us­ing up en­ergy and burn­ing calo­ries too,” he con­tin­ues.

“Walking for 20 min­utes on a flat even sur­face helps to burn around 100 calo­ries – that’s the same as swim­ming for 10min­utes, play­ing foot­ball for 12 min­utes or do­ing aer­o­bics for 16min­utes. The more walking you can build into your reg­u­lar rou­tine, the more calo­ries you can burn.”

Un­like some forms of ex­er­cise, walking is gen­tle on the joints, re­quires no ex­pen­sive equip­ment and can be un­der­taken at a time con­ve­nient to you.

“The good thing about walking is you can do it any­where, at any time, with­out any spe­cial­ist equip­ment and it’s com­pletely free – all you have to do is take a step out­side,” says Des.

“In fact, walking is a great way to get back to fit­ness as it places very low strain on the body com­pared to some other forms of ex­er­cise, mak­ing it suit­able for al­most any­one to start.”

An­dit’s easy to in­te­grate more walking into your life with min­i­mum ef­fort...

“Re­plac­ing short jour­neys ( which you would usu­ally make by car or pub­lic trans­port) with walking is a really good way to build walking into your reg­u­lar rou­tine, and can help you save money too,” says Des. “Try walking to work or school, or to the lo­cal shops.”

BIG BEN­E­FITS

As well as the ad­van­tages walking can have for your health, it also has many ad­di­tional ben­e­fits too...

“Walking can be a great way to ex­plore your lo­cal com­mu­nity,” says Des. “Of­ten when peo­ple start walking they dis­cover beau­ti­ful places that they never knew ex­isted, even if they’ve lived in an area for years.

“Walking can also be a great so­cial ac­tiv­ity. Many peo­ple find that walking in a group pro­vides the mo­ti­va­tion they need to keep walking reg­u­larly, turn­ing ex­er­cise from a chore into a fun af­ter­noon out with friends. There also seems to be some­thing about walking that helps to break­down bar­ri­ers, help­ing peo­ple to open up and talk more freely.”

AT­TIRE AD­VICE

Although no spe­cial­ist equip­ment is needed for walking, it is es­sen­tial that you dress com­fort­ably, with suit­able cloth­ing for the weather and ap­pro­pri­ate footwear for the ter­rain.

“The most im­por­tant thing when walking is that you have com­fort­able footwear,” says Des. “A sturdy pair of shoe sort rain­ers that sup­port your feet is fine when you’re start­ing out. If you’re walking in the win­ter­time also make sure that you have warm lay­ers with you and a good coat to pro­tect you from the rain.

“As you progress to longer walks, es­pe­cially out in the coun­try­side, you may want to in­vest in a proper pair of walking boots and a good wa­ter­proof jacket to keep you com­fort­able and dry.”

GET TRACK­ING!

Some peo­ple like to track their walking progress us­ing a pe­dome­ter. Widely avail­able in sports shops and on­line, they can usu­ally be bought for less than £ 10.

“Ape­dome­ter­isas­mall­gad­get which clips onto your waist­band and counts the num­ber of steps youtake,” ex­plain­sDes.“Th­ey­can be use­ful if you want to mon­i­tor how far you’re walking each day. You­canstart­by­see­inghow­many step­sy­ouwalk­i­nanormal­dayand then slowly build the num­ber up over time.”

Al­ter­na­tively, if youdon’twant to in­vest in a pe­dome­ter, you can mon­i­tor your progress by keepin­garecord­ofhow­muchtimeyou spend walking.

“The chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer rec­om­mends that peo­ple do 150 min­utes of phys­i­cal ex­er­cise a week, which­caneasily­be­bro­ken down into 30 min­utes, five days a week,” saysDes.“Keep­ing­trackof how much time you spend walking each­day­is­a­good­way­for­peo­ple to mon­i­tor their progress. If you’re­new­towalk­ing, don’tforce your­self to do too much at first – start slowly and build up to the 30- minute tar­get.”

OUTANDABOUT

Withamyr­i­ad­o­fac­ces­si­ble­walk­ing routes to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

“The great thing about Bri­tain is that it has an abun­dance of places to walk – whether you’re in a city, the coun­try­side or on the coast,” says Des. “There is a vast net­work of pub­lic foot­paths which you can walk on, as well as pave­ments, lo­cal­park­sand­pub­lic wood­lands.”

And, with maps and guide­books widely avail­able on­line, or in your lo­cal book­shopor­li­brary, find­in­gascenicwalk­ing­trail­n­ear you is easy.

“There is likely to be a large range of walking book­sandmaps avail­able­fromy­our­local­li­braryor book­shop and you can of­ten pick up­lo­cal­walk­ingleaflets­fromy­our li­brary­or­touristin­for­ma­tion­cen­tre too,” says Des.

“Also, the Ram­blers has just launched an on­line li­brary of walking routes with a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent­walk­sacross­the­coun­try to suit all tastes and abil­i­ties. You will need to be a mem­ber of the Ram­bler­stoac­cess­the­ful­l­li­brary but hun­dreds of short routes are avail­able to ev­ery­one for free and are a per­fect re­source if you are just start­ing out and look­ing for in­ter­est­ing places to walk.”

JOIN AGROUP

Ify­ouwantspend­more­time­walk­ing, bu­ty­oudon’twant­tostepout alone, why don’t you try find­ing your feet with a walking group?

As part of a walking group you’ll meet lots of like- minded peo­ple, be guided by an ex­pe­ri­enced leader, dis­cover walking routes you prob­a­bly don’t know ex­ist – and, of course, there’s

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