Get Walking

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Your daily dozen consists of the twelve minutes of exercise that you need to do every day, rain or shine.  (The wonderful Daley Thomson said that he trained Christmas day as well principally because he knew that his main competitors would not be training Christmas day.)

The exercise programme you put together from the range of exercises improves three out of the four Ss of fitness – Strength, Suppleness and Skill.  The fourth S stands for Stamina and this needs to be addressed in needs to be addressed in other ways and the easiest way to do this is by walking.

 

The benefits of walking

Walking is the single best type of activity particularly for health and wellbeing.  It costs nothing, has virtually no risks or side effects and can be done at a moment’s notice.

How intense is the activity of walking?

You remember that there are three levels of activity – vigorously intense, moderately intense and the activity of everyday life.  Brisk walking is usually moderately intense, namely you know you are doing something because you can feel that your breathing is little faster than usual and if you take your pulse you notice your pulse is a little faster but you can still keep talking to the person walking besides you.

Many people who are retired of course walk more than people who are at work, although there are exceptions to the rule because some people who walk a lot at work, postmen for example or waitresses whereas some retired people develop diseases which make walking more difficult rheumatoid arthritis for example.  However, unless you walk a lot, for example because you have energetic Labrador we can recommend walking as an activity you should increase.

Don’t worry about the ten thousand steps

For the last twenty years there has been great debate about the ten thousand step figure.  We now know that the key to better health could start to focus on ten thousand but to say that however much or little  you walk in the present try to do an additional three thousand and if you want you can do it in three ten minute spells each ten minutes doing a thousand steps.  Ten minutes is a good target because ten minutes is often possible to find in a busy life and for many people three ten minute additional spells of walking is easier than one thirty-minute spell.

What if I can’t walk a thousand steps?

It is important to remember that the general guidance given to people is over sixty-five has to cover people from sixty-five to a hundred and five with a hugely variable range of ability.

If you are affected by, for example, Osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease then maybe devils walk an extra thousand steps, at least initially but what is vitally important is to increase walking by some commitment such as four hundred extra steps a day or even one hundred extra steps a day.

The risks of walking

Being bitten by a dog is one risk, being hit by a cyclist another but the one that most fear is falling.  To reduce the risk of falling the best plan is to look at ways in which we can strengthen leg muscles and improve coordination.  Exercises help you do this.  It is also important to think about the possibility of using a walking stick.

Some people hate walking sticks as a sign that they are getting old but it was not so long ago that walking sticks, for men at least were highly fashionable accessories remember Bertie Wooster and Fred Astaire?  For women a good fashionable umbrella will serve the purpose but not quite so good as a walking stick with a rubber tip.

The other approach is to go for coolness and to carry a Nordic pole.  Nordic walking is growing increasingly powerful.  Walking using two Nordic walking poles, based on Nordic ski poles is not only good for balance it is very good for posture and uses about ten per cent more energy than swinging the arms back and forth.

In any case most falls occur at home where people trip over like some flexes not on pavements dreadful though many are in towns and cities.  If you have problems with balance, for example as a side effect of medication then have no hesitation in using a walking stick and use it with a bit of swagger.