Walk This Way!

The health benefits of a regular walking programme.

Walking is the most simple and easiest way to get fit and stay fit. It costs nothing and can easily be slotted into the day. However, as a nation we are walking less than ever and ultimately this is damaging our health.
It’s hard perhaps for those of us who regularly walk (Nordic style) to understand why this is the case when there are so many health benefits and it is such an enjoyable activity, but for those of you reading this who are ‘on a break’ or contemplating starting Nordic Walking or at the risk of ‘preaching to the converted’ here is a reminder of the, very compelling, medical research behind walking.

The recommendations from the Department of Health are that we walk at least 10,00- 12,000 steps a day for fitness and 15,000 for weight loss. You might be surprised to learn that most people average only 3,000- 4,000 steps per day. To achieve 10,000 steps a day a person , with an average stride, will walk about 5 miles. Health gains are incrementally linked to walking additional steps each day. Walking 2, 000 extra steps , roughly 20 minutes of walking, each day for a year can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 8% (Lancet 2013). Walking 4,000 extra steps , or 40 minutes, can further reduce cardiovascular risk by 40%, which is equivalent to taking a Statin medication for cholesterol lowering – and no side effects!. It’s not only cardiovascular health that benefits from walking but also there are reductions (shown in brackets) in certain cancers, specifically breast (20%) and colon (30 -50%), also Diabetes (35 -50%) , depression (20-30%) , Hip fracture (36 -68%) and Alzheimers (60%) (Department of Health 2011).

To achieve those steps you don’t need to take a 5 mile walk all at once, you just need to move about more throughout the day and take opportunities to walk more or further , like parking furthest away in the car park, or better still walking to the shops. Of course this isn’t always possible and that is why a Walking Group can help you achieve those 30 -40 minutes or 3,000 – 4,0000 steps of moderate exertion as part of your health and fitness plan.

Research shows that it’s never too late to adopt and reap the health benefits from a more active lifestyle.
“The biggest benefits come to those who start from scratch,” says Dr Cavill. “It’s moving from a sedentary lifestyle to a moderately active one that makes the biggest difference to your health. The more you do, the greater the health benefits.” (NHS Choices website 2014).

Needless to say all exercise should be gradually and incrementally increased, whether you are just starting out or an elite athlete. That’s why walking in a supervised setting with qualified and experienced trainers is such a benefit to those both embarking on an exercise programme and for those who wish to increase or maintain their fitness alike. Nordic Walking in particular is perfect for people starting out with exercise as the poles give joints support whilst they propel the body. Generally the Nordic Walker has a sense of less perceived effort whilst walking as the propulsion and support provided by the poles enable walking to be sustained for a longer time, thus more steps are gained.

You will see over the coming weeks and months the profile of Nordic Walking raise even higher in the media as Gill Stewart, Director of Nordic Walking UK, promotes her new book ‘The Complete Guide to Nordic Walking’ in the during September. Already the big names in fitness training like Matt Roberts, personal trainer to David Cameron, are getting on board with Nordic Walking. Matt is using Nordic Walking for his clients now , saying in the Times Newspaper recently (August 23, 2014) “it works the chest, back, arms, shoulders and legs, more than you would normally . Nordic Walking has been shown in numerous studies to provide fitness benefits far beyond a normal stroll” .
Septembers Good House Keeping also promotes Nordic Walking for those with a ‘sensitive bladder’, saying that as it is a low impact sport “it won’t impact on your bladder”. Good news for any sufferers. It seems everyone is talking about the benefits of Nordic Walking – like normal walking, but better!

If you haven’t been Nordic Walking for a while and are convinced of the many health benefits of walking –particularly the Nordic kind, we would love to see you back. Throughout September, between 10am – 10. 45 am on a Wednesday and most Saturday’s there will be a Refresher walk to get you back up to speed and on the subject of speed expect to see more intervals and hills in your Workout Walks, some Advanced Nordic Walking technique is coming up too. For those considering embarking on Nordic Walking have a try with a Taster Session and lessons to gain the full benefits (details on the website www. pennyparker.co.uk). Last but not least it really is great fun and very sociable so put your best foot forward and walk this way!

Contact Penny Parker at contact@pennyparker.co.uk or ring 07711133567