What we’ll cover
Benefits of walking
Walking is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Walking can be done at any time of day, any pace, and is a great introduction to activity for people who might be returning to exercise, starting a new exercise regime or overweight or have not exercised in a long time. Our physiotherapist Tegan Skipworth explores the benefits of walking and how much walking we should be aim for.
Walking is what we term a weight-bearing exercise. This is a type of exercise where we are required to carry our body weight. There is great evidence for weight-bearing exercise in the management of osteoporosis, arthritis, post-operative care and many spinal joint conditions. Physiotherapists often prescribe a walking plan as an adjunct to manual therapy and specific exercise as an easy way to assist in patients’ rehab and recovery. Walking is also fantastic for general joint mobility and injury and pain prevention.
What are the physical benefits of walking?
- Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness
- Increased bone density and health
- Increased muscular strength and endurance
- Contributes to management of metabolic conditions including hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart conditions
- Can reduce pain and stiffness resulting from many musculoskeletal conditions
What is a good distance to walk each day?
The Australian National Physical Guidelines for adults recommends an accumulation of 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Alternately, the guidelines recommend 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
Intensity of walking can usually be determined by your ability to maintain a conversation. If you can easily chat with a friend whilst walking, this would be considered a low intensity walk. If you find yourself huffing and puffing or are unable to maintain your conversation, it is likely that you are exercising at a moderate or more vigorous intensity.
Walking is one of the safest exercises and usually poses little health risks. However, some individuals do need to take caution with certain comorbidities or if they have a risk of falling. Check with your GP or Physiotherapist before commencing a walking plan to ensure it is appropriate for you.
Great ways to track and increase your walking
A fantastic way to ensure you are reaching your weekly targets is to walk for a certain amount of time per day, or to use a pedometer. If you have a smart phone or smart watch, you will have access to this function.
If you are someone who finds it difficult to fit exercise into your daily routine, look for what we refer to as ‘movement opportunities’. Movement opportunities can be something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking around the room while taking a work phone call, walking with a friend instead of sitting for coffee, or doing physical household chores. These incidental forms of movement will contribute to your overall step count.
Always remember, even small bouts of walking and movement are better than no movement at all. It all counts!
If you are unsure of where to start, or have an injury that may limit your capacity to walk, call our friendly team or book online.