The easiest exercise to start
In Part 2 of our get fit outdoors articles, we take a look at walking. Walking is probably the first activity that comes to mind when you think of fitness in the outdoors, but do you know exactly how this hobby can help your health? We go over some reasons that you should add more walking to your fitness calendar in 2016.
Walking is a great starting point for anybody looking to improve their overall fitness. You can start at your own pace, and go for as long as you feel you can. Regular walking can help with cholesterol issues which can in turn prevent numerous health problems. As well as the health benefits, walking is also a fantastic social activity and a great way to meet like-minded people.
Fitness benefits of walking
Now don’t get me wrong, walking won’t turn you into Arnie overnight, but regular walking (especially hill walking) will help tone up your legs, bum and tum.
Walk the distance
Taking 6,000 steps a day can begin to help improve your health, taking 10,000 a day will start to help you lose weight. 10,000 steps equates (on average) to around 5 miles.
Health benefits of walking
Good for your heart
Reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes by giving your heart the exercise it needs. Regular walking helps your heart get your blood pumping faster and lowers bad cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Top up on the sunshine vitamin
Vitamin D, otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin helps with bone health and keeping your immune system in check. The best way to get more vitamin D is to get outdoors.
Studies have shown that exercise can release feel good endorphins which will help lower your stress levels. A brisk walk at lunch time will bring you back to work feeling fresh and alert.
Change up your walk
Don’t let your mind or body get used to one form of exercise. Walk up hills, walk over longer distances, or power walk your way to a healthier lifetsyle. The more you keep your muscles guessing, the more benefit you are likely to feel from your exercise.
Need more reasons?
Walking can and will introduce you to some real hidden gems around the Great British countryside. There are so many wonderful and stunning places that simply cannot be reached easily with any other mode of transport. A hike into the hills can introduce you to Facebook worthy views, or mysterious caves, or historic spots to entice you or your family’s imagination.
Exercise works best with a partner, it spurs you on and keeps you going when if you were alone you might think about quitting. Walking is the ideal social activity, because it won’t take your breath away like many exercises. Can’t find a friend to walk with? There are websites and groups all around the country offering walking clubs for like minded people to get outdoors. Combine your exercise with meeting others that are interested in the same thing, and it can only add to the health benefits.
Track your progress, beat your targets
Experts say we should walk for at least 30 minutes a day, but to somebody starting out – what is the benefit? What is the achievement? There are plenty of apps for your smartphone that track your distance while you are out walking, so you can see exactly what you’ve achieved in that 30 minutes. Walking apps are great for setting and smashing targets, and challenging yourself like this can be a good way to keep your motivation up for continuing with your exercise.
Not sure where to go? Download a pre-walked route
If you’re worried about getting lost, or not sure where to start with walking/hiking, then a walking GPS can be an ideal gadget. Many GPS units will give you access to downloadable routes online. This means you can check route details before your trip, and even provide the route to a family member for safety reasons.
There’s more than one way to walk
When you think of walking for fitness, you probably think of the hip swinging power walk. Generally more of a fitness regime than a recreational activity, the power walk is as fast as you can go without running. Power walking will get your heart pumping and your lungs going and adds a degree more difficulty than your average walk.
Scenic walking routes can relax the mind and keep you moving. The mental stimulation of a country walk will help you forget about the physicality of the walk and urge you to go further. Download a route, track your walk and just see what you have achieved at the end of it. A lowland ramble will let you discover stunning local scenery, ideal for those who like to snap a photograph or two.
Walking up and down hills works more muscles and burns more fat than your standard walk. A great workout for the rear end with a fantastic sense of achievement at the top. With challenges like the 3 peaks challenge, Munro Bagging and more around the UK – there’s no shortage of big hills for you to conquer.
Geocaching is a great way to add a little more fun to your walk. The hobby is on the rise here in the UK, and with hundreds of thousands of geocaches to be found here on home soil, it’ll keep you occupied for quite some time. The best thing about geocaching is, caches are all around. So whether you are out on the moors, or walking around a city centre – the chances are you won’t be far away from claiming a cache. For more information on geocaching and how to get started, visit out guide.
Looking for some inspiration to get started? Try out these links
10 Walking Routes in the Peak District
10 Snowdonia Walking Routes
10 Lake District Walking Routes to try
10 Walking Routes in Loch Lomond and Trossachs
Beginners Walking Checklist
10 Things to check when buying new walking boots
What is Geocaching?