Get a healthy heart and lose weight quickly
The secret’s walking 10,000 steps a day
Can walking really get you fit and help you lose weight? Yes it can. Walking is good for your heart and lungs, improving cardiovascular fitness, says the NHS Choices website. When walking most of the work is done by the muscles of the lower body, and it’s a weight-bearing activity, so it can improve bone density. At the same time, it’s low impact, so it won’t strain your joints. Here’s NHS Choices’ brilliant article:
Surely you really need to go to the gym for a proper workout?
Doing a thorough workout at the gym is excellent and you can get good advice from the instructors about the best exercise for you. But ask yourself these two questions: do you actually go to the gym? And how often? The beauty of walking is that it can be fitted into your daily routine. It’s free, saves on petrol or bus fares and is better for the planet. Half of all journeys in the UK are under two miles.
I’d have to walk really fast to burn calories.
Not true. It’s the distance covered that matters, not the time. Though if you walk faster you will burn calories at a faster rate. Your size, stride and speed will affect how many calories your burn in 10,000 steps. For an 11 stone woman walking at a fairly brisk pace of 3.5 miles an hour, it would take around 90 minutes and burn more than 400 calories.
Isn’t walking too easy if I want to get fit?
It depends how fit you want to get. If you want to get fit for sport then yes, you do need to work hard. But you can get major health benefits from relatively mild exercise, as long as you do enough and do it regularly.
Is walking really going to make a difference to how I feel or look?
Yes. Walking will also increase your muscle tone, boost metabolism, ease stress, raise energy levels and improve sleep. All of these combined can also help you lose weight.
But walking isn’t going to prevent illness.
Not true. Regular walking can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, osteoporosis and arthritis. It can help you to deal with anxiety and stress, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
But I hate exercise.
Walking doesn’t need to feel like exercise. It can be part of your daily routine. You could stop driving to the local shops and walk there instead. If you use the bus or tube, get off one stop early and walk. Or take a walk in your lunch hour: half an hour’s walk after a meal cuts the amount of fat your body stores by using it to fuel your exercise. And throw away the remote control: your couch potato days are over.
I’m still not convinced.
The beauty of walking is you can do it any time, anywhere. You don’t need any equipment and you already know how to do it. Best of all, it’s free.
How can I make sure I’m doing enough?
A pedometer is a great way to measure your walking steps. They cost around £10 from large chemists and fit easily into your daily routine. There’s a great video you can watch about the 10,000 steps a day challenge on the NHS website.
Some killer facts
* Only three out of 10 people do enough exercise.
* More than a third (37%) of heart disease deaths are related to inactivity, compared with 19% related to smoking.
* 10,000 steps equals about five miles: most of us walk 4,500 steps a day.
What a 60kg person burns in 30 minutes:
Strolling (2mph): 75 calories
Walking (3mph): 99 calories
Brisk walking (4mph): 150 calories
Source: Department of Health