Since moving back up north and acquiring a car for the first time ever, I've become acutely aware of the fact that it's easy not to do any walking at all if you don't actively make the choice to build it into your day. Yet my experience has shown that including walking in your routine can have an amazing effect on your health.
I believe that for people new to exercise walking is the best possible way to start building activity into your day. So why exactly is that? Here's the deal:
1. It's easy to fit into your life
I know one of the big reasons I was so inactive before I started walking is that I used to struggle to find time to dedicate specifically the exercise. Between work, social life, travelling to see family and everything else, it was a constant battle to fit in gym sessions or classes. When I started walking to and from work it was a revelation - I was fitting exercise into my routine instead of around it.
2. It helps you lose weight and improves your health
People often overlook walking as effective exercise, but if you're usually pretty inactive building walking into your routine makes a huge difference. It's an effective way to lose weight, as my experience shows. Plus according to the NHS, regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.
3. It can save you money
If you're able to build walking into your commute as I did when I was living in London, then you can save some serious money on travel costs. And even if you can't, you could still save petrol every once in a while by walking to the shops or into town instead of driving. I also found that when I started walking, the amount of weight I was losing meant I didn't feel the need to go to the gym any more, which was even more money back in my pocket.
4. It's low impact
After walking for a long time, I felt fit enough to move onto running as well. While I really enjoyed that too, and this post isn't intended to dissuade you from other forms of exercise, I did find that I ended up with a few injuries along the way. High-impact exercise can take its toll on your body, as well as improve it, which is why I always come back to walking. Even when I was out of action with a hip injury I still managed to keep up the walking.
5. It's good for the mind as well as the body
It's amazing what getting a bit of fresh air and time to think can do for your brain. Or even not-so-fresh air (as I found in London). Just being outside can help lift your mood and make you feel more positive. Once you start feeling the effects of more exercise, that helps too - I found that as I lost weight and felt fitter, my confidence and self-esteem improved no end. All thanks to walking.
6. You don't need any special equipment
All you need to go for a walk is a comfy pair of shoes. Don't most of us own at least one pair? (If not you probably should!)
So there you have it - six really good reasons to get out there and go for a walk. No more excuses!