MOOD BOOSTING WINTER WALKING – GET YOUR GROOVE ON!
Autumn is most definitely here and the season of mists and yellow fruitfulness is upon us. It’s a bittersweet time for many and whilst I will miss those wonderful long hot sociable summer days, October is one of my favourite months. An elegant synthesis of reflection and fresh energy, it’s the transition between the end of summer on the start of winter. HOWEVER, along with it comes damp and drizzly days too, where it can be tempting to stay snug and promise yourself a walk ‘later’ once the clouds have passed. Cabin fever, sluggishness and malaise can be a side-effect however so let’s embrace this new season and look forward to the onset of … WINTER WALKING to boost not only mood but fitness! Need a little bit of extra convincing? Then read on…
TEN HEALTH BENEFITS OF WINTER WALKING – Here’s our Top Ten:
1. It will boost your brain
The fitter your legs, the fitter your mind. That’s according to a brand new UK study, which found that increased levels of walking, targeted to improve long-term leg power, may have a positive impact on mental ageing.
Scientists at King’s College London studied 324 healthy female twins over a decade. In general, the twin who had stronger legs at the start of the study had better sustained her powers of cognition and experienced fewer age-related brain changes at the end of the 10-year period.
2. It’s better for you than the gym
Well, that’s the conclusion of researchers from the London School of Economics, who claim regular brisk walking is the best exercise for maintaining a healthy weight.
Having analysed data from the annual Health Survey for England, researchers found that adults who regularly walk briskly for more than 30 minutes tend to have a lower body mass index and smaller waist than those who take part in sports or exercise at the gym. The results were particularly pronounced in the over-50s.
3. You’ll lower risk of heart disease and osteoporosis
Caught a glimpse of winter sun? Get outside for a walk and you’ll boost your levels of vitamin D. Obtained primarily through sun exposure, vitamin D is vital for maintaining a healthy heart and bones.
People with the lowest blood levels of the vitamin are twice as likely to die prematurely as those with the highest, according to a recent US study.
4. It can speed up cancer recovery
Walking one mile each day at a moderate pace could reduce breast cancer patients’ risk of dying from the disease by 40 per cent, while those with prostate cancer could reduce risk of death by almost a third, says research for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers. What’s more, that daily walk can also reduce the impact of some of the side effects of treatment.
5. You’ll live longer
A brisk 20-minute walk each day could be all you need to significantly reduce your chances of early death, according to a study of 334,000 European adults.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that twice as many deaths may be attributable to lack of exercise, compared with the number of deaths caused by obesity. But just a modest increase in physical activity – walking instead of driving to the shops, for example – could be enough to boost your health and longevity.
6. It’s just as good as running
Need more convincing that you don’t need to train for a marathon in order to see a significant boost to your health? A long, brisk walk is as good as a run when it comes to lowering risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, say US researchers. The reason? It’s the total energy used, rather than the intensity of the workout, that counts.
7. It could help beat depression
Getting out and about on foot is an effective intervention for depression and has a mood-lifting effect similar to more strenuous forms of exercise, according to researchers at the University of Stirling.
Country walks in particular have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and raise self-esteem, says a report from mental health charity, Mind.
8. It’s good for your joints
If you suffer from joint problems, regular exercise is one of the most important things you can do – as much as the condition will allow, obviously. Walking is ideal because it’s low-impact but helps keep your weight in check and prevents stiffness and swelling.
One recent US study found that walking 6,000 steps per day – that’s approximately three miles – may protect people with, or at risk of, osteoarthritis of the knee from developing mobility issues, such as difficulty climbing stairs.
9. You’ll make new friends
Particularly if you come Nordic Walking with us. That’s a total given. In a Canadian study of 884 adults over the age of 50, those who joined a walking group were more likely to report feeling a strong sense of community, camaraderie and enhanced well being. Our walks are full of chat, banter, laughter and fun! The time always zooms along and meanwhile you’re exercising too. A double plus!
10. You’ll fare even better if you pick up the pace
Walking a little quicker – or further – can increase the heart-boosting benefits of your stroll, according to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. Walking in a Nordic Walking group is definitely motivational and you will push yourself to keep the pace. We have walks for all levels of fitness and ability but a common thread on ALL our walks is the ‘value added’ pace to avoid that comfortable ‘bimble’. Our aim is to add in the huff and the puff so you feel luxuriously energised at the end of each walk!