The following information is courtesy of the Irish Heart Foundation. For more information on the work of the Irish Heart Foundation, visit: https://irishheart.ie/
Walking is a near perfect form of exercise particularly for those who are currently inactive because:
- It is accessible to all regardless of age or ability
- The time and distance can be built up gradually as the individual becomes fitter
- It is free, requires no special equipment or expansive membership fees
- It allows for social interaction while exercising
- Can be easily incorporated into people’s daily lives
- Has a low injury risk
- Is family friendly
Walking for health
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that:
“Health is a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing”.
The heart is a muscular bag which squeezes to pump oxygen through the blood vessels around our bodies. When you walk at the right intensity you give your heart, lungs and blood vessels their own special workout, training these vital organs to work harder and more efficiently for you. As a result, you can help reduce your blood pressure and prevent heart disease and stroke. Over the 20% of coronary heart disease and stroke are due to physical inactivity.
People who suffer joint discomfort can benefit from regular woalking because walking strengthens the muscles, ligaments and cartilage around your joints. Walking can also increase your joint mobility.
Bones become susceptible to injury and degeneration as you get older. Some activities (like jogging, skipping or jumping) are high-impact in nature nad subject your bones to a lot of stress and strain. Walking si much kinder to your bones as the impact is at a low level.
Normal walking (at a relaxed pace), has the effect of strengthening and toning the muscles of the calves, thighs, ankles and feet. Fitness walking techniques such as power walking, stride walking and Nordic walking involve greater use of the upper body and are a marvellous way of toning not only the legs, but also the arms, shoulders, stomach, hips and buttocks.
Staying slim and trim is a delicate balance between taking in energy (in the form of food) and expanding energy (in physical activity). When you walk, your body burns more calories than usual. For example, a man weighting 12 stone uses around 330 calories in a one hour walk at a brisk pace. But walking also helps suppress the appetite. Now there’s food for thought!
Many people think that the l3ess energy they have the less physical activity they should do . But he opposite is true! Perhaps the greatest benefit fitness can bring is the feeling of vim and vigour that it instils in people of all ages. The fatigue we feel in everyday life is often a mixture of mental and physical exhaustion. Walking can alleviate both.
“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigour” Marcus Tullius Cicero
Stress is a common by-product6 of modern-day living. There are many expensive solutions for stress, tension and anxiety on offer. But we have a solution that doesn’t come in a pill or liquid form and is totally free of side effects. Walking! Doctors have found that regular walkers are better able to cope with whatever problems modern-day living throws at them.
Research shows that exercise influences the release and up-take of chemicals knowns as endorphins in your brain that make you feel good. Staying active can lift your mood, reduce stress, help you deal with negative emotions and even help with anxiety and reduce the risk of depression.
Studies have found that peole who participate in physical activity typically have greater physical and overall self-esteem.
While walking is not a team sport you can still reap the social benefits from a regular walking routine. By walking in a group you will meet new people and help to maintain existing friendships.