Can simple steps really lead to a much healthier lifestyle? Let’s discuss…
Did you know that 26 per cent of UK adults take part in fewer than 30 minutes physical activity a week? We all know that regular exercise is good for our health, but to keep our bodies – and minds – in tip-top condition we don’t need to be Olympic athletes or long-distance runners.
The simple act of walking – whether a swift stride to the shops or a leisurely stroll through the park – can have a huge impact on our well-being. Walking benefits our muscles and posture, helps to protect and repair organs, aids digestion and can even turn back the ageing of our brains.
Here are the key benefits of stepping up your walking exercise, according to not-for-profit healthcare insurance provider, Paycare.
MAKES US HAPPY
One of the major benefits of walking is stress relief as the act of physical exercise increases concentrations of norepinephrine in the body – a chemical which moderates the brain’s response to stress.
Employees who regularly exercise are said to be far more productive and have much more energy than their more sedentary counterparts. Not only that, but 12 noon is apparently the optimum time of the day to reap the benefits so, if you fancy surviving the midday slump, be sure to take that lunchtime stroll.
Walking, like all forms of physical exercise, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevents degradation of the hippocampus – a vital part of the brain for memory and learning. Researchers have found that walking for just 20 minutes a day boosts memory and improves overall brain function.
It is widely reported that the late founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, regularly held meetings on the move. And research by Stanford University supports his thinking by demonstrating that walking significantly boosts creative inspiration.
By asking friends, family members or colleagues to join you, you can make a simple walk into a full-on social occasion.
BOOSTS THE ECONOMY
Walking schemes can reduce the amount of sick days taken by staff, leading to lower absenteeism costs for the business.
GOOD FOR METABOLISM
Engaging in low-level activity across the course of the day is better for regulating your metabolism than engaging small bits of intense but infrequent activity. People tend to overestimate the benefits of going to the gym and pounding out an hour on the treadmill when they’ve been inactive for the rest of the day. In fact there is some evidence that this behaviour can lead to exercise-induced inactivity.
For many of us, the working day involves going from sitting in our car to sitting at our desk, to sitting on the sofa. This can result in a bad posture and back problems. Getting up and walking around regularly can help prevent a bad back and improve our posture.
Regular walking really can benefit us, so be sure to get those walking shoes out of the cupboard and take them for a short stroll each day of the week!
TIPS TO HELP YOU WALK MORE:
• Set an alarm on your computer or phone to go off every 25 minutes and then get up and go for a five-minute walk.
• There are plenty of standing and walking desks on the market. Ditch the old desk and try walking while working.
• Meetings don’t have to mean sitting down. Try suggesting that everyone stands up instead.
• Take a phone call standing up and walk around when you’re on the call.
• Using the step counter on your smartphone, try to do 5,000 steps more than you’re currently doing and aim for 10,000 steps distributed throughout the day.
• Take the stairs instead of the lift.