With the glorious weather we’ve had in the UK during the last couple weeks, I’ve really enjoyed going walking. While I struggle in the cold and wet, I find it immensely rewarding to be out in the bright sunshine and under deep blue skies, pounding the pavements and working up a sweat (apologies, ‘glow’), and returning home feeling a little tired and highly accomplished.
Mr Koeksister, on the other hand, is a cyclist, which is somewhat unfortunate. I am delighted he enjoys the exercise, but it is unfortunate that my derriére cannot appreciate such activity, and therefore unfortunate that he and I, for the most part anyway, must exercise separately.
Every few weeks though, I convince him to join me, and I have found our evening strolls through the quiet streets or around the reservoir near our home to be one of my greatest and simplest pleasures.
Can something as simple as walking be beneficial?
Getting regular exercise can be a challenge. Here are a few reminders why walking just 30 minutes a day is so good for us:
- It reduces stress
- It improves mood and self-esteem
- It helps control weight
- It decreases risk of heart disease and diabetes
- It lowers blood pressure (even for up to hours after the walk)
- It lowers harmful cholesterol levels and increases good cholesterol
- It wards off osteoporosis (by building bone density)
- It improves memory and concentration, and recent studies have even shown it to help prevent Alzheimers and dementia!
Plus, it’s free; you don’t need any special equipment – other than a good pair of shoes; and you don’t need lessons or instructions.
Tips for motivation
I’ve recently been looking at pedometers – gadgets that measure the number of steps taken rather than mileage (although some do both). An accurate one can give you an idea of how much you’re moving about in the day and help to keep you motivated. Not all pedometers are equal though, so before purchasing one, check out reviews on the Web. Here are two I have read about recently: www.talkingpedometer.co.uk and www.joannahall.com/pedometers.php
If you have a smart phone, you can search for and download a free pedometer app. The downside to this, compared to owning the actual gadget, is that you continually have to carry your phone, but I have found apps very useful for recording individual walks. I am currently trying out Pedometer Ultimate GPS+ which tracks your distance and routes, measures calories burned, and allows you to input goals.
A simpler app is walk4life (only for iPhone/iPad users) which keeps a record of where you’ve walked, the distance, time and calories used, as well as a monthly running total of your mileage. It doesn’t measure the number of steps you take, however, and I have experienced a few difficulties with it getting my location wrong. (Apparently this can be corrected by pressing the ‘Locate’ button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen before you start.)
Do you consider yourself active?
According to experts, taking:
- fewer than 5 000 steps per day means we’re sedentary,
- between 5 000 and 7 499 steps is low activity,
- between 7 500 and 9 999 steps means we’re somewhat active,
- more than 10 000 steps means we’re active – this is what we should aim for,
- and more than 12 500 steps a day means we’re highly active.
For those who prefer to measure their walking by distance, a recent roughly 4 km or 35 minute walk gave me nearly 4 500 steps. But every step you take will add up to the goal of 10 000 per day!
Wearing a pedometer on your waistband throughout the day encourages you to take the stairs instead of the lift, park at the furthest end of the parking lot, get off the bus one stop earlier, run quick errands on foot, or walk the kids to school.
This month, try making it a priority to get moving… your body will thank you!
Do you enjoy walking, or any other form of exercise? Where and with whom do you like to walk? How have you managed to incorporate it into your routine, and do you have any encouraging tips for us?