Everyday walking is beneficial to your health, whether it’s to your local shop, around the park with your friends or simply from the car park to the office. Walking is easy, free and one of the simplest methods that you can use to get active and become healthier. The awareness campaign, National Walking Month (1st May – 31st May), was established by the charity, Living Streets, to encourage walking for all. Regular walking has many health benefits, from reducing stress and boosting energy to lowering the rate of weight gain; but walking doesn’t have to mean dragging your feet around a muddy field for hours – any walk counts. Physical activity does not need to be painful or exhausting; a simple daily walk can help you become healthier. Find our walking must-haves and top tips for maintaining motivation below:
- Comfortable Shoes
Comfortable shoes are a must-have when walking, no matter how far the distance. Choose a pair of shoes that provide support for the arches of your feet, have a firm heel, soles with grip and do not cause blisters. If you are walking to work, consider taking a spare pair of shoes to swap into once you are at the office. Therefore, you can walk to work comfortably in a pair of trainers and put on your smart shoes once you’re at work.
- Loose-fitting Clothing
When you’re planning to go out for a walk, make sure to wear loose-fitting clothing that allows your body to both breathe and move freely. If you’re wearing thin layers rather than heavy, warm clothing, you are able to remove items of clothing to suit you, as walking can increase your body temperature.
- Stay Hydrated
Ensure that you don’t become dehydrated when walking by consuming plenty of water before you are about to leave for your walk. Whether you are making your way to work or planning a long relaxing stroll with your family, make sure that you always have a bottle of fresh water to hand. Although walking isn’t a high-intensity exercise, you are still being active and therefore may become dehydrated whilst walking – especially in the warmer months.
- Sun Protection
Protecting your skin is very important. You may believe that because you’re not sunbathing, the UV rays from the sun will not harm you. However, sun damage can happen when you least expect it, such as when you go for a walk. UV rays are extremely powerful and can penetrate your skin and cause damage at any time. Therefore, when you go for a walk use a high factor sunscreen, cover up with a scarf, hat or sunglasses and make sure that you never burn.
- Fitness Tracker
Once you have begun to build you walking regime you may become interested in tracking how many steps you take each day. The average person walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day (www.nhs.uk). In order to find out how many steps that you take on a daily basis, try using a pedometer or fitness tracker to record your movement.
In order to increase the distance you walk, try to think of ways that you can include walking into your everyday routine. Walk to the shops, use the stairs instead of the lift, plan a regular walk with your friends or join your local walking group. Maintaining your motivation to walk each day can be difficult, so why not try to add variety to your trails; parks, commons, woodlands and nature reserves provide a scenic destination for an energetic powerwalk. You may also find it motivating to set yourself a target, record how many steps you take each day using your fitness tracker and set yourself a goal, such as 10,000 steps. Having a goal in mind will keep you motivated and get you moving.