Walking is proven to improve heart health and reduce stress. As a matter of fact, research shows that brisk walking for as little as 11 minutes a day can improve cardiovascular function and add years to your life.
Staying active doesn’t have to be over complicated. And when you have a busy lifestyle so many people today, it can be easy to make excuses to avoid physical exercise.
Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise to engage with. Most people have to walk at some point of the day anyway — so why not incorporate a fitness routine into your daily routine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend performing some form of moderate exercise for at least 150-300 minutes a week. That be achieved quite easily if you engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week.
And incorporating a daily fitness routine into your normal schedule is not difficult with these easy-to-squeeze tips.
Walking Up Hills
To turn your usual walk into a fitness routine, all you need to do is intensify the activity and effort you put in. One simple way of achieving that is to walk up hills.
Walking up hills makes your legs muscles, lungs and heart work harder. Any activity that causes you to breathe deeply and exert your muscles can be classed as moderate exercise.
Furthermore, when you conquer a steep hill it gives you a deep sense of achievement and releases endorphins. This improves your mood and helps to nurture health benefits.
In 2022, researchers stumbled across a surprising health benefit — walking backwards improves gait, balance and knee osteoarthritis. Not only that, but it makes your brain work harder and subsequently improves cognitive function.
Walking upright involves the coordination of visual, proprioceptive and vestibular systems. Because walking is a subconscious program, it is second nature to us.
Walking backwards, on the other hand, forces the brain to recalibrate and regress from autopilot. The process involved in coordinating the body’s walking system engages different parts of the brain and forces you to take shorter steps more frequently. This helps to improve muscular endurance in the lower legs and reduces the burden on the knee and hip joints.
Brisk walking involves picking up your speed to around 2.3 mph to 3 mph. When you walk at a faster pace, you burn more energy, take more oxygen into your body and make your heart beat faster.
Walking at a faster pace has been shown to have numerous health benefits including boosting your immune system, managing diabetes and reducing the risk of cancer.
Fitness experts also say that you get more fitness benefits by changing the pace and walking slowly for 2-3 minute intervals.
Adding weights to your backpack or wearing a weighted vest whilst you’re out and about engages your core, builds muscle mass and burns more calories. Over time you’ll also build more stamina.
The health benefits of walking are indisputable, so if you should be doing more physical exercise, turning your daily walk into a fitness routine is a smart solution.