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  • AyresHealth

For the love of walking

We love walking. We regularly walk locally with the dog or further afield at weekends in the Peak District or North Wales. After a walk we feel ‘recharged’ and more ready to take on life's challenges. We love it so much that we started a free walking group from the clinic. Read on to find out more about walking for health and how to make walking part of your life.

Walking is a simple, free and easy way to increase physical activity and feel healthier.

There is lots of focus on the benefits of exercise in the media, but many people don’t realise that walking is a great exercise for health and well-being with numerous proven benefits.

Health benefits of walking

· increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness

· reduced risk of heart disease and stroke

· improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes

· stronger bones and improved balance

· increased muscle strength and endurance

· reduced body fat

· reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and depression

Walking outside in natural surroundings has a relaxing affect. It allows you to ‘switch off’ from everyday concerns and have some time away from devices like computers and mobile phones. In fact, the charity Mind recommends that ‘ecotherapy’ — outdoor physical activity — should be recognised as a clinically valid treatment for mental distress.

Walking 30 minutes a day

To get the most benefits from walking, it is recommended to walk briskly for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. A brisk walk is around 3 miles an hour and faster than a stroll. You should still be able to talk but not sing. If 30 minutes in one go is too much, you can break it down to 10 minute blocks 3 times a day and still feel the benefits.

The best way to walk more and stay motivated is to try to make it a habit and think about how to include walking in your daily routine.

Examples of walking habits

· Walk part of your journey to work

· Walk to the shops

· Use stairs instead of the lift

· Walk the kids to school

· Walk regularly with a friend

· Go for a stroll with family after dinner

· Walk the dog

· Walk at the same time each day

· Join a walking group

Walking footwear

The wrong type of shoe can cause foot pain, corns and blisters. Make sure your shoes are comfortable, supportive and cushioned. They should be wide enough to accommodate the shape of your foot with about a 1 cm gap between the longest toe and end of the shoe. The depth should allow room for the toes to wiggle and not rub the top of the toes.

Trainers are fine for pavements and good footpaths but wear walking shoes or boots with good grip for muddy and uneven paths and trails.

Walking alone

Some people enjoy the time to themselves that walking can provide. To make the most of walking on your own follow the tips below.

· Plan a variety of routes so you don’t get tired of the same sights.

· Walk at different times of the day – places can look very different 1st thing in the morning to later in the day.

· Explore what’s going on around you, try to notice the sky, sights and sounds.

· If you’re not feeling motivated, try listening to music or a podcast.

· Drive to country parks or nature reserves and enjoy the views while you walk.

· If possible, let someone know the route you are planning and roughly when you expect to be back.

Walking in a group

Walking with others can turn exercise into an enjoyable social occasion. Research shows

benefits for mental health and reducing loneliness.

Schedule regular walks with family or friends or join a local walking group.

Walking for health is an initiative to encourage people to be more active and provides volunteer led walks in different areas throughout the UK. These are short local walks usually lasting about an hour. We lead the Congleton walk which leaves from the clinic at 10.30am on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month. Details of the walks can be found by visiting www.walkingforhealth.org.uk.

For the more active, the ramblers provide longer walks in rural locations ranging from 4 miles to all day walks. Visit www.ramblers.org.uk

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