10 Reasons to WALK or RUN

Walking and running are perfect exercises for busy women, as they not only tone up your body, but also help you lose weight, improve all-round fitness and lift your mood. Here are 10 reasons why you should hit the walking trails...

Help you lose weight: Brisk walking, running or jogging are energy demanding activities. Each step of the way you propel your body forward makes almost every muscle in your body participate.

You burn an average of 60 to 100 calories for each mile depending on the intensity. This beats most other forms of exercise including cycling and swimming.

The fact that walking and running are so demanding makes them great for weight loss as they help the body to burn excess fat.

Boost your metabolism: It’s not just the energy you expend when you walk or run that stokes the calorie-burning furnace; there is the post-workout after burn. This is the amount of extra energy used to get the body back to normal after exercise.

Research shows that the more intense the exercise, the longer your metabolic rate remains elevated. Brisk walking is intense and running even more so. And the more you elevate your metabolic rate, the more 3extra calories you will burn each week.

Keep your bones strong: Far from being bone-shocking and joint-wrecking activities, walking and running are actually good for your skeleton. Walking, and even running, in correct shoes and surface does not cause wear and tear to your knees.

The impact of walking or running helps to maintain bone quality and prevent osteoporosis. Research shows that people who regularly participate in brisk aerobic exercise such as walking or running usually experience 25 per cent less muscle and joint pain in old age than people who are less active.

Ensure to always wear the correct shoes for walking or running and as much as possible exercise on surfaces such as trails, grass an athletics track or treadmil.

Keep your heart healthy: Walking and running have a positive effect on four major risk factors for heart disease – obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol ratio and diabetes.

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that levels of HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein, ‘good’ cholesterol) levels increase with the number of miles walked a week, while blood pressure, both during 5exercise and at rest, fall.

Tone you up: Walking and running make the lower half of your body – thighs, hips, bottom and calves leaner and stronger, particularly if you walk or run faster uphill. Walking and running build muscular endurance.

Another benefit is a flatter tummy. Research shows that people who walk, jog or run regularly see significant declines in visceral fat (the deep layer of fat around the abdominal organs that is known to be dangerous to 6the heart) and total abdominal fat.

Natural way to exercise: Walking and running are natural movements, which everyone can do. Putting regular activity into our lives preserves our physical and mental wellbeing. Our bodies were designed for walking but modern living leads to sedentary lifestyles.

Exercising outdoors also boosts vitamin D levels. Outdoor activities are more effective at reducing stress than indoor activities.

Combat stress: The stress-busting benefits of walking and running are backed up by scientific evidence. Walking briskly or running for 10 to 15 minutes improves mood.

Anxiety is also reduced while feelings of relaxation are increased. Other studies have found significant difference in levels of mental stress and life satisfaction in joggers compared with sedentary people.

Suit most people lifestyle: Other than walking and running, there are few types of exercises that are more versatile and simple to fit into your life. You can walk or run anytime, anywhere and with anyone.

You can walk or run off-road or through the streets. You can amble at a comfortable walk, jog or run. You can stick to tracts and treadmills or head to the park or walking trail. You don’t need much special clothing or equipment except for walking shoes and a good sports bra.

Walking is the perfect form of exercise for busy women juggling the demands of work, family and social life. And as well as getting you fitter, it builds confidence and self-esteem.

Makes you smarter: Walking and running are positively beneficial for your brain. Regular walkers and runners are more alert and focused.

Research shows that exercises such as walking and running increase production of key brain chemicals that encourage the growth of brain and nerve cells and help develop new neural pathways (communication lines between the brain and the body).

It also improves blood and oxygen flow to the brain and promotes the growth of blood vessels, allowing brain tissue to be nourished and preserved.

Creative thinking and problem solving improve after 25 minutes of aerobic exercise; and blood flow to the right hemisphere in particular (the area associated with creativity and imagination) is boosted by exercise.

Should not cause injury: Injuries that happen during walking or running are due to training errors rather than the exercise itself. To ensure you stay injury free, you need to start slowly and build up gradually.

Whether you are running or walking – or mixing bouts of both – start every session with a warm up. This helps raise body temperature and get the heart rate up, and research proves that it reduces injury risk. You should also cool down after the exercise and end with a stretch.

Perhaps more than in any other activity, the correct footwear is essential, so ensure you kit yourself with a proper pair. If you have problems with your legs, knees, hips or back, consult a qualified exercise practitioner to give you the best advice on the best way of training.

While it is normal to feel sore after exercise, pains that recur or don’t go away can be a sign of injury and you need to be examined and treated before they get worse.