Walking is one of the easiest and safest exercises around. Although walking is not as intense as aerobics or weight lifting it has a number of benefits. For starters it’s kind to the joints, there are virtually no side effects and the risk of injury is very low compared with other exercises. Even if you are currently participating in a regular exercise routine, adding a steady walk will help.
Most doctors recommend that you participate in a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes each day. A brisk speed is thought to be between five and six kilometres per hour. If 30 minutes seems too long try breaking it down into three 10 minute sessions. Perhaps 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes on your lunch break and 10 minutes after work.
So what are the exact benefits of walking each day? You will lower your blood pressure, reduce your chances of a heart attack by up to 50%, increase “good cholesterol” (high density lipoprotein/HDL) and strengthen your heart (which will reduce your risk of heart disease). Brisk walking can also promote weight loss and shed excess body fat, particularly in old age as your metabolism begins to slow and gaining weight gets easier.
Taking a brisk walk each day can also keep you safe from osteoporosis, diabetes, all forms of arthritis and clot-induced strokes. Furthermore, scientific studies have shown walking can help reduce depression. The fresh air that you will take in when you are walking outside will also do your body and your mind a world of good.
A good investment before you start your daily walks is a good pair of sneakers or walking shoes. Look for a pair with some extra room at the toe of each shoe because this will let your feet stretch out comfortably. Remember, that although walking isn’t highly intensive it is still an exercise and you need to stretch and warm up beforehand, then stretch and cool down after your walk. This will prevent you pulling your muscles and reduce unnecessary aches. Also, monitor your progress and try to walk a little further each day.
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