Walking is one of the easiest and simplest forms of exercise that can boost your physical and mental health. On the other hand, a brisk walk for 11 minutes every day or 75 minutes a week will not only keep you fit and healthy, but also likely prevent early or premature death.
A new study by researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK, reveals that 11 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity — such as a brisk walk — would be enough to lower your risk of life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and cancers, and enable you to live a reasonably long life.
Of course, you can do more depending on your time, capacity and inclination for physical activity, and your doctor’s advice, if necessary. You can walk more if you like, ride a bicycle, go dancing, hiking or swimming, work out in a gym or take up a sport like tennis. You can simultaneously improve your lifestyle by incorporating healthy eating and sleeping habits, maintaining work-life balance, doing yoga and meditation, and generally being more positive and happy.
Dr Soren Brage of the MRC Epidemiology Unit says, “If you are someone who finds the idea of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week a bit daunting, then our findings should be good news. Doing some physical activity is better than doing none. This is also a good starting position — if you find that 75 minutes a week is manageable, then you could try stepping it up gradually to the full recommended amount.”
However, adhering to a daily routine of physical activity can be challenging because while you may have the time, you lack the motivation to get out and walk or run. So the next best thing you can do is walk without a routine and take it from there.
Here are eight steps to motivate you on your daily walking journey:
1. Take every opportunity to walk, whether it is running an errand, walking your dog or making a quick trip to the neighbourhood shop.
2. Avoid taking the elevator and climb the stairs, instead. Depending on how old and fit you are, it’s possible to walk up two to three floors without feeling out of breath.
3. If you’re commuting by public transport like the bus, then get off one stop before your destination and walk the rest of the way.
4. Avoid frequent doorstep deliveries. Instead, walk to your nearest grocery store or supermarket and then walk up and down the aisles while you shop.
5. At home or in the office, stretch your legs after sitting for 30 minutes or more. It improves blood circulation and prevents muscle stiffness.
6. Whenever you’re in the office, walk to the pantry or restroom that's located away from you, say, on another floor.
7. Walk around the house — there's so much to do, you’ll be on your feet more than you realise.
8. If you have to make a short-distance trip, say, to the bank or the hairdresser, then don't drive — walk!
While these steps may not constitute as brisk walking, they will help you develop a daily habit of walking and become physically more active. The important thing to remember is that every step counts, every step of the way.
Disclaimer: The above walking tips are only suggestions and may not be effective or suitable for everyone. See what works best for you and walk accordingly. Consult a doctor, physio or fitness expert, if necessary.