Vina Showbiz
by on January 23, 2021
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Abandon your punishing fitness plan! For true physical and existential salvation, nothing beats a good walk, argues author Will Self

This activity will melt away the pounds, tone your flabby bits and leave you on an emotional high. Yet the form of exercise destined to become the fitness trend of 2007 does not require a gym membership or a personal trainer. All you need to do is walk.

"Walking is a refreshing alternative to complicated aerobic routines and overpriced gym memberships," says personal trainer Lucy Knight, author of a new book on the exercise.

"It is free, enjoyable, and already a part of everyday life. All you need to do is correct your technique, walk faster and for longer and you will lose weight."

There is much evidence of the benefits of walking. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh recently revealed that overweight people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost weight even if they didn't change any other lifestyle habits.

Another American study found that people who walked for at least four hours a week gained less weight (an average nine pounds less) than couch potatoes as they got older. Last year, researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease (which impairs blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain in one-fifth of elderly people).

Walking can even prevent colds and more

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts medical school found that people who walked every day had 25 percent fewer colds than those who were sedentary.

Because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it can also help prevent the bone disease osteoporosis.

"Bones are like muscles in the way that they get stronger and denser the more demands you place on them," Knight says. "The pull of a muscle against a bone, together with the force of gravity when you walk, will stress the bone -- which response by stimulating tissue growth and renewal."

Best of all, walking makes you feel good about yourself. "For people suffering from depression, walking three to four times a week for 30 minutes has been shown to enhance their mood," says Knight.

Even if a 20-minute power walk at lunchtime is all you manage, after six weeks it could be comparable to a course of psychotherapy, psychologists at the University of Illinois found. Here's how to walk your way to weight loss and wellness:

How much, how often?

Health experts recommend that we should walk 10,000 steps a day (about five miles) to stay healthy, yet most Britons walk only 4,500 steps. You would probably need to tot up at least 16,000 steps a day to lose weight.

Knight suggests the following workout plans, depending on your level of fitness. With each, you should aim to progress by increasing the duration of your walk by five minutes every two weeks, and the intensity by walking faster. "In just three months, the results should speak for themselves," says Knight.

 

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