Finding time to do activities with your kids that will keep them fit and healthy can be a challenge. The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that children should be active for at least an hour a day, which can seem quite daunting, particularly if you’re not used to being active yourself.
A really simple solution to fitting physical activity into your day is walking. Often underrated as a form of exercise, walking has a multitude of health benefits and serves the dual purpose of giving you a gentle workout while also getting you from A to B.
A survey released at the beginning of May, marking the start of National Walking Month, showed that over half of Britons are unwilling to walk for 20 minutes. If you fall into that group, here are five key reasons why you should think again and make walking part of your family’s routine:
Walking is easy to fit into your life
Are you guilty of jumping in the car or taking the bus for short journeys such as popping to the shops or dropping the kids at school? Maybe it’s time to reconsider. The great thing about walking is that you can use it as a mode of transport, so it fits around your other activities. It might take a bit of thought and route planning the first time you walk somewhere instead of driving, but it’s surprising how quickly it becomes a habit. It’s also a lot more relaxing and much less stressful than sitting in a traffic jam.
Walking helps with weight loss and improves health
People often overlook walking as an effective form of exercise, but building walking into your routine can make a big difference to your health. Increasing your activity through walking can help you lose weight and reduce your risk of illness. A major study comparing the health impact of brisk walking with running found that walkers benefited as much as runners from a reduced risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease, so long as they used the same amount of energy by walking an equivalent distance.
Walking is low impact
High-impact exercise can take its toll on your body and it’s usually not the best place to start if you or your family don’t do much exercise. Walking is a low impact activity and a great way to make physical activity part of your daily routine. It can help build strength and stamina too, allowing you build up to high-impact activity at your own pace.
Walking is good for the mind as well as the body
Walking is great for keeping our minds healthy too. Because when we walk – just like when we do any kind of exercise – our brains release chemicals that make us feel good. And that means walking helps you cope with things like depression, stress and anxiety. It can also help kids to burn off some energy and provides a relaxing way to get away from all those screens. It’s amazing what getting a bit of fresh air and time to think can do for your brain.
You don’t need any special equipment to walk
Exercise can sometimes feel like yet another strain on your wallet, but you don’t need to worry about getting any special equipment to go for a walk. All you need is to make sure everyone has comfortable shoes on, that you have the right clothes to keep you warm or cool – depending on the weather – and perhaps a bottle of water if it’s a nice day.