Benefits of walking and how to stay motivated

Did you start off 2019 with new goals and objectives for the year ahead? Perhaps one of them is to get fit & healthy or lose weight and one of the best ways we can do any of these is to go Walking!

We all know walking is good for us but it’s actually more important than we realise! Click on the infographic below to see the 20 benefits of walking:

Being physically active is probably the single most important thing that we can do for maintaining or improving our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Physical activity which includes an active lifestyle and routine exercise, like walking, plus eating sensibly is the best way to stay healthy.

What is physical activity?
It can be formal exercise which tends to be planned, structured and repetitive, and which is designed to maintain or improve physical fitness. It can be sport which is an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and is often of a competitive nature. Most importantly, it is a broad term which covers all different types of movement such as active play, walking, dance, gardening or housework. The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland were published by the Department of Health and the HSE in 2009:

Children and Young People (2-18)
All children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day. Include muscle-strengthening, flexibility and bone-strengthening exercises 3 times a week.

Adults (18-64)
At least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week). You can count shorter bouts of activity towards the guidelines. These bouts should last for at least 10 minutes.

Older People (65+)
At least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week, or 150 minutes a week. Focus on aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and balance.

Walking is the best form of exercise as it can be tailored to most fitness levels and health needs – and it’s absolutely FREE! No gym membership, no sign up fees – all you need is comfortable footwear, appropriate clothing for the weather and you are good to go!

Here are 10 tips to help you get started and stay on track:

1. Ask a friend to join you in your new exercise routine, you will motivate each other to get out there each day
2. Join a walking group like Operation Transformation – a great way to meet new people and interact with your local community
3. Go for a stroll after dinner each day instead of watching television – make this a habit like brushing your teeth or taking your vitamins
4. Give yourself an aim like walk to the shop to get milk or post a letter – it helps to have a reason to get to your destination
5. Change your route and explore different paths every day – that way it won’t seem so monotonous and you will gain more appreciation of your the surroundings on your doorstep
6. Leave the car at home and walk to public transport to get to work / shops – this is not only good for your health but you will also save money too!
7. Take the stairs instead of the lift or go the longer route instead of your normal routine – get those steps up each day
8. Aim to participate in a charity event like Darkness into Light on 11th May 2019 or other fundraisers in your community – build on your fitness so you are physically ready & looking forward to them
9. Keep track of your progress by using a calendar or a fitness tracker – you will soon see improvements in your timing and want to increase your steps
10. Remind yourself of the above 20 benefits – it’s not just a form of exercise but also a form of self care and mental well being

So come on everybody, dust off those trainers and lets get the nation Walking!!!

For more information on how to get started on your new fitness plan, call in to your local Haven Pharmacy for more advice!