Walking 10,000 steps (approximately five miles) a day has proven health benefits, is free and can be done at any time by most people whatever their shape, size, or age. It’s a sure way to get you from from couch to active! Here are 10 reasons to get those boots on… and get walking! By Jo Waters.

1. You’ll live longer. Research published in 2015 found walking just 15 minutes a day could help people over 60 live longer – cutting their risk of dying by 22 per cent compared with those in the same age group  who did no exercise – so even short bursts of walking are better than none.

2. Weight loss/maintenance: A 45 year-old weighing 70kg (11 stone) will burn 440 calories by walking 10,000  steps a day. Walking two miles (3.2km) a day four times a week can help reduce weight by 1lb a month.

3. Builds joint strength: Even if you have osteoarthritis (the wear-and-tear kind) you shouldn’t stop walking as research studies have confirmed regular walking strengthens the muscles supporting joints, reducing pain and prolonging the time until a hip or knee replacement may be needed.

4. Cuts your risk factors for heart disease: Brisk walking will cut your blood pressure, help boost levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, as well as helping to reduce your weight.

5. Helps prevent cancer recurrence: Research has shown regular walking and can reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer by 50 per cent in colorectal cancer survivors and up to 40 per cent in breast cancer survivors.

6. Relieves stress and prevents depression: Regular exercise releases the body’s natural painkillers – endorphins – and reduces the risk of becoming depressed by 30 per cent.

7. Reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes: Walking helps lower your blood sugar and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

8. Cuts your dementia risk: A study by the University of Pittsburgh reported walking six miles a week protects brain size and preserves memory.

9. Helps you get your dose of Vitamin D. Walking to and from work or taking the kids to school, nipping out in the middle of the day for a 20 minute trot? You’ll also benefit from the sunshine and absorb some vitamin D the natural way.

10. It helps you sleep. Moderate intensity exercise, including walking, boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin. A 2003 US study looking at post-menopausal women and sleeping patterns, compared two groups for a year and found the walkers suffered less sleep issues than those who were in active.

May is National Walking Month. Find out more here: https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/what-you-can-do/campaigns/national-walking-month-2016

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