The health benefits of walking

The outbreak of Covid-19 may have denied us the ability to enjoy the sorts of activities we have always taken for granted – but despite some current government restrictions still being in place, one pursuit we are still able to look forward to is walking.

With the many news outlets still reporting 24/7 on the latest guidance, statistics, predictions and coronavirus stories from all over the UK, it’s understandably a worrying time for all of us.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to take advantage of any opportunities to look after both our health and mental wellbeing.

We know all about the requirements to wash our hands and socially distance, but it’s equally as important to remember the fact that we are allowed, once a day, to undertake a form of exercise outside of our home.

Thousands of us are currently enjoying daily fitness classes streamed into our living rooms via various digital platforms, but as we keep on saying here at Winfields Outdoors, there's nothing better than getting out into the fresh air and taking a walk.

When the time comes in the future months we’ll obviously be reminding you of how great it is to take a long hike up mountains and across trails – but with those types of activities off the radar, for the time being, let’s not forget about the health benefits provided by a simple walk.

Of course, during this time of Covid-19 pandemic, you need to be alert to the social distancing rules when out walking and remain 1-metre-plus away from anybody else. If you are still concerned about busy pavements and routes, time your walk for when it’s likely to be less busy.

Here are some of the key health benefits of walking...

Walking keeps you fit

A good walk increases your heart rate, gets blood pumping around the body and is a great form of aerobic exercise. Walking regularly can help maintain healthy blood pressure and lessen the risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke.

As with anything, the more you do it the more comfortable you’ll be, and in this case the further you’ll be able to walk.

Sometimes walking is overlooked as a serious form of exercise, but a brisk stroll every day (weather permitting, of course) can have a significant effect on your overall fitness – and your health.

Walking improves your mental health

As well as improving your overall fitness, taking regular exercise – such as a walk – can also significantly boost your mental well-being.

Even during ‘normal’ times, many of us suffer from a wide range of issues such as anxiety, depression and stress – and so as we steer ourselves through these most uncertain of times, it’s more important than ever to do all we can to look after our mental health.

Walking as part of your permitted once a day form of outdoors exercise is an ideal option.

'Anxiety UK' says a 15-minute walk can ‘help to clear your mind and relax’.

You don’t need to be a fitness fanatic to enjoy the rewards with research highlighting that even small amounts of exercise can make a difference. It doesn’t even matter how old you are or what your fitness level is, it’s a fact that you will feel better after a period of exercise.

Even a short 15-minute walk will help clear your mind and improve your mood.

Walking reduces health risk

There are many ways in which walking can reduce risks to your health:

  • Walking can boost your immune system and reduce the risk of developing a cold or flu.
  • Walking can ease joint pain, including your knees and hips. This is because walking can help to lubricate and strengthen the muscles which support the joints in your body
  • Walking can boost your energy levels. Especially at a time like now, when it’s easy to remain indoors and only move from one room to the next, going out for a walk will increase oxygen levels throughout the body and also increase the hormones which boost your energy levels
  • Walking will burn calories! As you burn calories, you can maintain or lose weight. Numerous factors are involved when determining the amount of calories you will burn, such as speed and distance, but you’ll definitely burn more calories out walking compared to sitting in your front room.

Walking can help you sleep better

If you’re struggling to enjoy a good night’s sleep, then regular exercise can help the body settle into a quality night’s rest.

According to the London Sleep Centre, walking is one of the best ways to make yourself feel extra sleepy.

A good walk can help rid your body of stress while it also boost the amount of melatonin in the body, the natural hormone which increases our ability to go to sleep.

Walking helps get your steps up

More and more of us are counting our steps on our fitness apps every day – looking to hit the ‘holy grail’ of 10,000.

Obviously, the more you walk the more steps you take – providing extra motivation for you to stay outdoors and wait for your device to hit that magic number!

The coronavirus has created an unsettling and uncertain time for many of us, but with the government guidance allowing us to exercise as much as we want, for all the reasons above we would strongly recommend and encourage everyone, if you're able to, to take a daily walk.

Stay safe, everyone!

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