In these days of HIIT sessions, glute bands and YouTube workout videos, it’s easy to forget a simple exercise that’s easily available to a lot of us. Walking. It’s simple, costs nothing and is an often overlooked form of exercise. With a comfortable pair of shoes and your favourite playlist, there’s a world to experience out there on foot. Let’s talk about all the good walking can do for physical health…
A brisk 30 minute walk is great for building stamina and burning calories too. Your stamina is important because it’s the mental and physical energy that allows you to keep going. In exercise, stamina is linked to how you feel and often allows to you perform something without getting tired. It’s about feeling energetic so if you’re low on energy, or experiencing low mood, it can be affected. Stamina itself isn’t necessarily a part of physical fitness, but it’s often the result of becoming fitter. And remember “fit” is subjective. So find out where your bar is, and get walking to help raise it. Studies have shown that improving your stamina can better your work ability, sleep quality, and cognitive function.
Endurance is stamina’s trusty friend, but they are a little different. Endurance refers to your body’s physical capability to sustain an exercise for an extended period, even when it gets difficult. It’s made up of two parts: cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels) and muscular. Endurance can be measured objectively, and aerobic exercises like brisk walking can improve it for everyone. Whether you’re a longtime hiker or just beginning your walking journey, you can build endurance by going just that little bit longer.
Your calves, glutes (the bum muscles) and thighs are all toning when you walk. It’s a form of muscle activity even though many of us don’t think of it in that way. Walking trains the leg muscles to work more efficiently and helps with muscular endurance. Think about walking and how your legs and feet have to work together to propel you forward, keep you upright and keep you moving. That’s toning! Walking is a fantastic way to train your muscles, and muscles are important whether young or old.
Stamina, endurance, fitness, muscle tone– and these are just the physical benefits! Walking has been shown to have great effects on mental health too. Even a short 10 minute walk can increase mental alertness and improve mood. Walking, like other forms of exercise, is a great way to get and feel healthy. It’s known to improve self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.
Walking mindfully gives everyone the opportunity to focus on our breathing and take note of every step. It’s something we often ignore. It’s a really accessible way to practice mindfulness. Many of us find it difficult to sit in silence, but walking and experiencing the world around us is a great way to be mindful, open up your lungs and breathe deeply.
Exercise is any and all forms is fantastic. It’s great for heart, brain and mental health. Whether you’re prepping for a day at your desk, tired after a day with the kids or just in need of some movement, get walking for an accessible way to experience a wealth of health benefits.