May: National Walking Month

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National Walking Month is an annual campaign to promote the benefits of walking. We have fantastic open spaces nearby such as Richmond Park or Wimbledon Common – so there’s no excuse to stretch those legs

It is perhaps walking that is the most accessible exercise, available to all regardless of current levels of fitness or income.

Your health
Walking gives your leg muscles and lungs a workout, reduces stress, helps you sleep, burns excess calories and reduces your risk of osteoporosis, cancer, depression and Type 2 diabetes. Phew, that sounds so good it should be prescribed.

The NHS says even just a brisk 10-minute daily walk has many health benefits, counting towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

A brisk pace is around 3 miles an hour – if you’re relatively fit, you should still be able to talk, but not sing a song. The free NHS Active 10 app handily tells you when you’re walking fast enough and suggests ways to fit in more brisk walking.

Particularly through the late spring and summer, walking outside will top-up your levels of Vitamin D which is good for your bone health and your immune system.

 Be sociable – or get alone time
Walking can be a chance to chat with your friends and family. Nordic walking classes, a Walking for Health walk, or a walking group such as the Ramblers (formerly the Ramblers Association) are ideal if you don’t have anyone to walk with.

However, you may prefer to use walks as a chance for some time to yourself. You could listen to music which can help you get into a rhythm and walk faster

If you are concerned about wearing headphones while you walk, look at AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones. These sit on bones on the sides of your head but not in your ears, meaning you can still hear traffic.

Raise money for a good cause
For National Walking Month, the British Heart Foundation is promoting the Just Walk initiative to encourage you to raise money in an organised walk. Tying in with this is their Walk to School Week from the 16-20 May, where they ask teachers, parents and children to put their best foot forward and walk to school each day.

Get it right
Wear supportive, suitable footwear. If you are walking to work, you could take a smarter pair of shoes with you to change into.

Stay hydrated. Always take a drink with you if you’re planning to walk for more than 20 minutes or it’s hot.

Always consider the terrain and the weather, especially if you’re heading off the beaten track. Do you need warm and/or waterproof clothing, headgear and footwear? Do you have snacks, drinks, a first aid kit and a charged mobile phone?

An internet search will return innumerable resources to help you both start and stick with it, not just for May but throughout the year.

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