Benefits of Walking Regularly
Monika a Chiropractor with Skelian talks through the benefits of walking.
A high percentage of patients that I see as a chiropractor spend a lot of their day sitting down as they have sedentary jobs. Sitting for prolonged periods can contribute to back and neck pain and even tension headaches.
During their chiropractic appointment, these patients are always asking me what they can do to help prevent back and neck pain when sitting at their desk is the cause. I always give my patients exercises as part of their treatment, but ultimately, what is most important is that they get up regularly and walk around. It sounds very simple, but humans are not meant to sit for extended periods of time. Repeat this every day for 5 days a week, and this is usually the primary cause of a lot of their symptoms. Walking is such an easy exercise that the majority of people can do, and should do.
As I am constantly telling people to get up and walk around, this has led to me writing this blog as I want to highlight some of the other benefits (other than reducing back pain) of walking regularly as a form of exercise. What I love about walking is that almost everyone can do it, at any age and fitness level and it doesn’t cost a thing.
The UK Chief Medical Officer recommends that we do 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. Macmillan Cancer support recently worked with the Ramblers to publish a report called Walking Works. The report outlines the health benefits of walking, and they found that by walking regularly to fulfill those 150 minutes, you could save around 37,000 lives each year from health-related diseases as well as an astonishing 3,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes. Some studies have even demonstrated that walking can be more beneficial than running. A study conducted in California found that walking regularly reduced risk of heart disease by 9.3% compared to running by 4.5 (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/apr/05/brisk-walk-healthier-running-scientists) Risk Reduction of Conditions, from “Walking Works”, Macmillan Cancer Support and The Ramblers .
Other Health Benefits of Walking:
- Increased Cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness
- Improved balance
- Increased muscle strength and endurance
- Improved management of conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Weight Loss
- Reduced back pain
Walking for 30 minutes a day
To get the most benefit from walking, it is recommended that we try to walk for at least 30 minutes a day at a brisk pace on most days of the week. Brisk means that you can talk, but not sing. You should feel that your heart rate has elevated. If you struggle to do 30 minutes, try doing it in 10 minutes bouts, three times a day. However, if your goal is to try and lose weight, you have to do it for longer than 30 minutes each day. You can start with smaller intervals, with the intention of gradually increasing it over the weeks until you can walk for more than 30 minutes continuously.
Calories & Fat Burn in 30- 60 minutes
At a brisk walking pace, you will on average burn between 100 to 300 calories in an hour. In the first 30 minutes, your body will use food and sugars to supply energy to the body. After 30 minutes, to maintain this level of activity, your body will release fat cells and use it as fuel. It is precisely this fat that you typically want to lose. So in order to walk for fat loss, aim to walk for 40 minutes up to an hour at a brisk pace.
The best way to try and get started with walking more regularly is to try and incorporate it into your day. Some suggestions to try and get you started include:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift/escalator
- Get off one bus stop early
- Park further away from the entrance of the supermarket
- Walk, not drive, to local shops
- Walk the dog
- Take a short walk at lunchtime – this will probably make you feel a lot better and more productive after lunch.
Try and make this part of your daily routine. Whichever you decide is easiest for you to manage, try and do this every day or as often as you can so it soon becomes part of your normal day.
How to Progress Your Walking
Once you’ve found that walking 30 minutes is no problem, then you can make it more challenging to further improve your fitness by doing one of the following:
- Uphill Walking
- Walking with weights, or a weighted rucksack
- Gradually increasing the speed at which you walk. This can be done intermittently at first
- Walking further
Make Sure You Have The Right Footwear
This is probably the only element of walking that will cost you anything. Ill-fitting shoes or wearing your office shoes that are not designed for prolonged walking may lead to blisters, shin splints, plantar fasciitis and other niggles that could put your walking on hold. I recommend that you change into a comfortable pair of trainers or walking boots that have good heel support and will cushion your weight as you walk. Hopefully, this blog has given you an incentive to take regular breaks and walk more often.
Hopefully, it will help you have less back pain as you’re taking a break from a sitting position, but your overall health will significantly improve if you make it part of your regular routine. If you have any further questions about this, please do come and speak to one of our chiropractors at Skelian.