Here are some good reasons for making sure that you undertake some form of physical activity on a regular basis. You don't even have to join a leisure centre or gym- just walking can be enough!
Regular exercise can:
- reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease by half
- reduce your risk of having a stroke
- help lower your blood pressure
- help you to lose weight * give you more energy
- relieve stress
- increase your sense of well being and your self confidence
- reduce the risk of diabetes
- reduce your risk of bowel cancer
- reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis
- reduce your risk of developing arthritis
- reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease
Where do I start?
The British Heart Foundation and the Countryside Agency have come up with an initiative to help improve our health and fitness. Quite simply, you can 'Walk your way to Health', and anyone can do it!
The information below has been reproduced with the kind permission of the Countryside Agency (WHI Team). For full information about the 'Walking the way to Health' Initiative visit the website at www.whi.org.uk
If you can only walk for a couple of minutes and then you need to rest that's OK. Where you start from isn't important - it's where you're going that counts!
Try to walk on most days of the week - you could start with a 10-minute walk and gradually increase the time you spend walking. Don't overdo it on your first. If you are very unfit you may want to start by walking every other day. Build it up bit by bit and know what you are aiming for.
To get health benefits from walking, you only need to walk for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. If it suits you to break this down and do, say, 3 sessions of 10 minutes walking in a day, thats just as good.
Building a habit of regular walking
To make a habit of regular walking, try this 10-week plan:
Week 1 - two walks of 10 minutes each on three days of the week
Weeks 2 and 3 - two walks of 15 minutes each on four days of the week
Week 4 - two walks of 15 minutes each on five days of the week
Week 5 to 9 - two walks of 15 minutes each, or one walk of 30 minutes, on five days of the week. Try to increase your pace slightly or include a route which has some inclines or uphill slopes.
Staying with it:
Week 10 onwards - aim for a brisk pace and challenge yourself with steeper inclines or hills. If you find any week difficult then repeat the week and stay at that level until you are able to progress comfortably. If, from week 5 onwards, you cannot fit a 30-minute continuous walk into your day then break it down into three 10-minute walks or two 15-minute walks.
Developing your own walking route
If you are walking on your own, stick to areas that you are familiar with. You might want to design a circular route that links your local shop with other local features - choose busy, more populated areas.
In poor weather conditions you may want to include an indoor shopping centre on your route (no excuses).
Investigate local parks, pathways and open spaces.
A local walking scheme may be able to give you ideas for routes which you could then do by yourself.
Start by walking on flat ground and by going a short distance. Increase the distance you walk before you increase the speed or gradient.
For further information contact:
Hesters Way Neighbourhood Project
Community Resource Centre
Tel: 01242 521319
Please visit www.whi.org.uk regularly to check for new initiatives that are being set up in Gloucestershire.