Can brisk walking get you in shape?
Not a fan of running? Not a problem. Find out if brisk walking alone can get you into shape
Not all physical activity is created equal. Highly strenuous workouts can affect the body’s stress response, causing cortisol to be released. But this doesn’t mean that you should refrain from getting fitter, healthier and stronger - it just means you should do it at a pace that’s right for you, especially if you’re relatively new to exercise.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by incorporating walking into your daily routine, slowly building intensity and duration as you go. You’ll be surprised at just how much brisk walking can help you get in shape.
What are the benefits of walking?
● Helps you maintain a healthy weight
● Tones your quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower leg and even upper body
● Fights dementia
● Cuts the risk of dying from cancer
● Improves heart health
● Naturally boosts your mood
● Increases vitamin D intake to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy
● Cuts the risk of early death by 15%, according toPublic Health England (PHE)
How much walking is needed to get in shape?
What strenuous means differs from person, so go gradually, especially if you’re starting your fitness routine from a completely sedentary lifestyle.
At the bare minimum, you should be walking for 150 minutes at a moderate-intense pace, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s two-and-a-half hours of walking a week, which you can break down into just 22 minutes per day, every day.
If you want to see noticeable weight loss and toning from your walking efforts, aim to be hitting around 150 to 250 minutes of walking every week. For significant fat-torching, increase your walk-time to 250 weekly minutes.
How to start walking more
There are plenty of ways you can sneak a daily walk into your routine. From simple swaps to gradually learning new habits, here are some of the most efficient tricks to supercharge your steps:
● Get off the bus a stop earlier on the way home from work
● Take the stairs whenever possible
● Go for a brisk lunch walk
● Actually walk over to talk to your co-workers rather than emailing them
● Park further away from your destination
● Hold standing meetings
If you find walking boring, take a dog out. Borrow your friends or sign up for a local dog-walking scheme. Hiking is another way to make walking fun - some of the most beautiful places in the world are hiking hotspots. Take the whole family!
Walking helps get you in shape without aggravating your joints or releasing the stress hormone cortisol in the same way running does. It also raises your heart-rate slowly (rather than sending it crashing through your chest) which makes it easier on the heart and helps your blood flow.
How to walk well
Maximise the benefits of walking by making sure you’re doing it properly. If you want to make walking a moderate-intense activity, you’ll find your brisk optimum pace at a point which is 10% slower than the pace you’d normally break into a jog. Here are a few other tips to walk well. Remember them next time you’re strolling:
1. Strike with your heel, then roll through the foot and push off with your toes. Keep the arch of your foot lifted while you do it.
2. Straighten out your spine, nice and tall.
3. Keep your pelvis stabilised.
4. Bend your arms at 90 degree angles and swing.