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Walking can't really get you fit, can it?

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Yes it can. Walking is good for your heart and lungs, improving cardiovascular fitness. Most of the work is done by the muscles of the lower body, and it’s a weight-bearing activity, so it can help improve bone density. At the same time, it’s low impact, so it won’t strain your joints.

The beauty of walking is that it can be fitted into your daily routine, and it's free!

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. And sport or working out in the gym are popular ways of getting and keeping fit. But you can get major health benefits from relatively mild exercise, as long as you do enough and do it regularly.

Latest scientific evidence shows that walking one mile in 15 minutes burns about the same number of calories as running a mile in eight and a half minutes. And the calories you can lose soon add up if you walk an extra hour a day. Of course, you have to watch your diet too: walking for 15 minutes isn’t a licence to eat whatever you like.

  • Only 3 out of 10 people do enough exercise
  • 10,000 steps a day is recommended to give you a healthy heart, most of us walk 4,500 a day
  • 37% of heart disease deaths are related to inactivity, compared with 19% related to smoking.

I'd have to walk really fast to burn calories?

Not true. It's the distance covered that matters, not the time. If you walk faster you will burn calories at a faster rate but you’ll arrive quicker. The level of benefit varies according to your age and current fitness level. Generally you will benefit more from walking briskly. To work out how briskly you should walk, you should aim to walk at a pace so that you are just able to hold a conversation whilst you are walking.

Is it really going to make a difference to how I feel or look?

Yes. Walking will also increase your muscle tone, increase the efficiency of your heart and lungs, lowers blood pressure and resting heart rate, help reduce cholesterol, boost metabolism, improves the health of bones, eases stress, raise energy levels and improve sleep, which combined can also help you reduce body fat and lose weight. It will also help improve self-esteem and enhance mental well-being reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It improves flexibility and co-ordination, reducing the risk of falls.

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, osteoarthritis. It can help you to deal with anxiety and stress, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. New research from studies in Britain shows that anyone can turn back the clock three years by getting some exercise, like taking the stairs instead of the lift.

I'm still not convinced...

The beauty of walking is you can be enjoyed by everyone and is accessible to almost everyone, regardless of age, income, location and ability. It can be enjoyed safely and there is a low risk of injury. You don’t need any equipment and you already know how to do it. Walking is also a great way to meet people in your neighbourhood and offers the chance to socialise. Best of all, it’s free.