The past few decades have seen changing lifestyle trends in ways people communicate, shop, travel, work, carry out household tasks and spend their leisure time. So it’s no real surprise that people in the UK are 20% less active now than they were in the 1960s, with over 6 million adults aged 40 to 60 not even managing a 10 minute brisk walk each month (Public Health England 2017).
Regular walking is ideal for all ages and fitness levels. It is a great way to improve physical activity and fitness levels and also has a great deal of benefits, such as: increasing ‘good’ cholesterol, reducing ‘bad’ cholesterol, reducing risk of chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, heart disease, asthma, stroke and various cancers. Walking lowers blood pressure, helps maintain a healthy weight, reduces risk of osteoporosis and helps to stay fit and strong, not to mention the many mental health benefits it offers. This September, follow our tips on how to walk your way to a healthy heart.
Stride into the new school year
With the new school year approaching make plans to walk to school with your brood instead of taking the car. Just 10 minutes of brisk walking can reduce your risk of early death by 15% and will help to set a good example, counting towards the 60 minutes a day recommended physical activity for children. You could even get a walking bus together with kids and parents, helping to build safety and friendships, making you more likely to keep it up over and beyond October which is International walk to School Month.
Go for the Car Free challenge
On Friday 22 September people will be encouraged through a range of events to take part in World Car Free Day. Ditching the car and taking the cycle path or combining public transport with bursts of walking to and from the station are good steps forward for heart health, as well as our cities. So don’t make this a one off event, why not go for gold with the 50 day challenge. You’ll soon be hooked on that feeling of invigoration from the increased blood flow to the heart and mind, surprised at how much quality time you can gain from not sitting in the car and you’ll be helping hearts as you move more.
Take the lead
Dog walkers may be top of the league when it comes to heart-health. You should aim for at least 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity physical activity like walking, cycling or swimming, which can be broken down into 10 minute bursts. So if you own, foster or care for a canine companion, make sure you grab hold of the lead for at least 10 minutes each day and up the pace of those walks to really reap the benefits of reduced blood pressure, lower stress levels, a healthy body weight and ultimately a longer life.
There is an abundance of research to suggest a strong link between preventable death and time spent in an inactive state such as sitting. In fact physical inactivity contributes to as many deaths as smoking (Public Health England 2017). Making efforts to fit in 10 minute bursts of activity is important and helps to reduce these risks, but be mindful of those times when you and your children are watching TV, using the pc, playing on games consoles, using the mobile phone and simply wasting your heart’s potential to strengthen that muscle and pump life giving blood flow.