image

6 reasons why walking is the most underrated form of exercise

Hippocrates once famously said that walking is “man’s best medicine” – and he had a point.

When it comes to exercise, going for a walk doesn’t often come top of the list. Trendier workouts – like yoga, HIIT and boxing – might get a lot more attention, but walking is secretly one of the most underrated forms of exercise going, great for burning off steam, reducing stress and finding mental clarity, and getting your blood pumping to give your health a boost.

With so many beautiful destinations on our doorstep too, you can save money on expensive gym classes by exploring the UK on foot. We talked to some experts about why walking is worthy of a top spot on your spring fitness agenda…

1. Better mental health

Around one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and with anxiety and depression on the rise among both adults and children, a daily walk is a really good way for the whole family to practice some mental self-care.

“Studies have indicated that exercise releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that can improve your mood, reduce stress levels and encourage emotional and mental satisfaction,” says Dr Luke Powles from Bupa UK.

Two mixed age couples walking on a countryside path during family camping adventure, front view

Walking triggers the release of feel-good endorphins

As well as getting that all-important boost of ‘happy hormones’, getting out into some greenery is good for the mind. “Research also shows that walking outside in nature can positively impact your mood,” says Powles. “In fact, a 50-minute walk has been found to decrease feelings of anxiety and worry in adults.”

It can be good for combating loneliness too. “A big motivation for joining our walking groups – we have over 500 groups across the UK who often do several walks a week – is the social aspect of it,” says Tompion Platt, director of advocacy and engagement at Ramblers. “There’s something about walking side-by-side with people in a group that allows you to have really easy flow of conversation. Often, those groups then end in a pub or at a lunch, so meeting people is a huge part of it – alongside being physically active.”

2. It can boost creativity

If you regularly find yourself staring at a blank document, shut your laptop, put on your trainers, and make like Steve Jobs. The late Apple founder was known to take power walks as a way to stimulate creative thinking.

Moving forward in the business world

Why not have your office meeting on foot?

“I go for a walk at lunchtime when I’m at work, and that’s really where I get the time to think about things,” says Platt. “Ideas suddenly come into my head.”

Platt, 37, has been rambling since he was a young boy growing up near the Peak District, and says he gets a “real sense of wellbeing” by being outdoors.

“There’s lots of research to back this theory up, but I personally find that if I’m sitting at a desk all day, or at meetings, it’s often when I go for a walk that I have the best ideas. It allows my mind to free up a bit.”

3. It’s good for weight loss

“Regular brisk walking – fast enough to raise your heart rate, leaving you warm and slightly breathless – is classed as an aerobic exercise,” says Powles. This means it burns calories, can help you to lose weight, and improves your fitness levels.

Young fitness female runner legs ready for run on forest trail

Walking can be a great way to help lose excess weight

Depending on your weight, Powles says that a brisk 30-minute walk, at a speed of around four miles per hour, could burn around 150 calories. And if you’re short on time, or starting from scratch with your fitness? “To make 30 minutes of walking even more achievable throughout your day, you could break up the session into 10-minute chunks,” he adds.

4. It puts you into the slow lane

Walking is the ultimate LISS (low-intensity steady state cardio) activity. It’s the opposite to all-out HIIT, the current fitness industry buzzword – but that doesn’t mean it won’t offer benefits, says Third Space trainer Luke Worthington.

An example of a HIIT workout would be a 25-minute cardio class with very little rest time, while walking for two hours would fall under the LISS category. “High-intensity exercise is very time-efficient,” explains Worthington. “LISS is just as effective as a fuel-burner as HIIT though, and it’s far less stressful on mind and body.”

People hiking

You can take things at a slower pace

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, he believes the best thing for your mind could be to dial things down, rather than throwing yourself into a high-adrenaline class. “In my opinion, the mega stressed, adrenaline and caffeine-fuelled city worker should opt for some leisurely LISS to counteract the effects of stress on the body,” says Worthington.

5. It can help ward off disease

“The benefits of regular exercise on overall health are so great, it lowers the risk of premature death from coronary heart disease by more than 40%, and the risk of age-related death from all causes by around a quarter – even if exercise is not started until middle-age,” says Dr Sarah Brewer, Healthspan medical director.

View this post on Instagram

Cave Hill, Belfast #exploringnature #hiking #cave #belfast

A post shared by Josy (@josymeyer91) on

A 12-year study of more than 300,000 people carried out by the University of Cambridge also found that a lack of exercise could be killing twice as many people as obesity.

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for lowering raised blood pressure, for example. “The results from 54 studies, involving 2,419 people with and without hypertension (high blood pressure), concluded that aerobic exercise such as brisk walking lowered blood pressure by an average of 3.84/2.58 mmHg,” says Brewer. “In studies that concentrated on people with existing hypertension, aerobic exercise such as walking was found to lower blood pressure by between 5/1 mmHg and 10/6 mmHg. ”

View this post on Instagram

*EASY HIKE ALERT* ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you are looking to take the kiddos out on a hike, this short hike just outside of Colorado Springs will do just the trick. If you do have little ones, be very careful at the top because there are some extreme drop offs ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #colorado #denver #coloradotography #coloradogram #coloradolive #rockymountains #coloradolife #5280 #coloradoinstagram #hiker #hikers #hikingtrail #hike #hikingadventures #getoutside #pulpitrock #outdoorlife #hikecolorado #marriedhikers #visitcolorado #mountains #mountain #explorers #hiking #coloradophotography #naturephotography #hikingview #gooutside #discovermore #coloradosprings

A post shared by Julia & Tanner (CO Hikers) (@rockymountainroamers) on

6. It’s cheap and easy

“Walking is good for the body because it’s low-impact; it’s a type of exercise that can be used by every fitness level, whether you’re beginner looking to improve your fitness or a regular gym-goer looking to increase steps. Best of all, it’s free,” says Worthington. Indeed, all you need are suitable shoes and you can walk just about anywhere.

Powell adds: “It’s a great flexible option for those that love to get outdoors, or especially if you’re the type of person that doesn’t like being tied down with a costly gym membership.”

Sold on the idea? Worthington says the distance you should walk depends on the desired results. “If you’re looking to improve your overall health, I would recommend aiming for around 30 minutes per day; I often suggest clients get off one train or bus stop earlier than their destination and walk to work – not only for the fitness benefits, but also the mental health effects too.”

The following two tabs change content below.

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
Little3
1st Apr 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
Thoreau and Kierkegaard were also fans 🙂

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!