It’s rare that anything is considered a miracle cure – there are always draw backs, side effects, complications, exclusions. However, it's generally considered that walking is one exception to this.
Walking can be accessed by almost everyone, at any time, for free. It can be incorporated into your daily life as part of your routine or can be a stand-alone activity. You can start small, 10 minutes at a gentle pace, and build up from there.
There are very minimal risks with taking up walking, even if you aren’t currently active or you have a long term health condition. Start slowly and gradually do more, always listen to your body. It’s a great way to improve your physical and mental health.
The information and activities on this page are not just relevant to walking, but also apply to all these other forms of movement:
wheeling or rolling
Walking and Physical Health
Increasing activity levels is really important and walking is a great way to do this. Walking is an excellent way to help keep lots of long term health conditions at bay, such as:
excess weight (obesity)
high blood pressure
Often people who already have a long term health condition are unsure if they should, or can safely, start walking. The answer is YES. As mentioned above, listen to your body and accept that some days might be easier than others. If you are having a flare up of your condition perhaps don’t go, or do less that day. See more information about becoming more active with a long term condition on Live Well York.
Walking and Mental Health
Being outside in the fresh air has a positive impact on your mental health. Walking can be used as an opportunity to take a break from work, study or home life or could be a structured form of exercise, such as walking group a hike or an expedition. Research has shown that walking can:
have a positive impact on mood
relieve and reduce stress
improve self-esteem and self-worth
reduce feelings of depression and anxiety
delay the onset of, or reduce the impact of dementia and cognitive decline
Walking is good for us all. We should try to incorporate walking into our daily lives as much as possible and if we can combine this with reducing time sitting at a desk, watching TV, or playing video games, there are many physical and mental health benefits to be gained.