Walking your way to health & happiness one step at a time

Do you walk enough? It’s simple, free and easy and many people don’t do enough of it! We discuss the many benefits of walking and share some tips on how to get out and do it!

The evidence is now in: “Walking is man’s best medicine”

This quote from Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, says it all. He also added that “Walking is humanity’s path to a better world.”

We now know that aerobic exercise and that includes regular brisk walking conveys many health benefits, including:

  • Improved heart and lung fitness
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes
  • Improved mobility, flexibilitybalance and weight control
  • Better circulation and lower blood pressure
  • Improved mood and higher capacity to cope with stress
  • Improvement in diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension

Quantifying the benefits of 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily [1]

  • 30% less risk of cardiovascular diseases (120 Australian die of this every day)
  • 11 point reduction in blood pressure (hypertension affects six million Australians)
  • 20-40% reduction in the risk of stroke (450 Australians die from this every day)
  • For more on why movement is so beneficial for health and Wellbeing see here.

Want to lose weight? – try walking daily

A study by the London School of Economics found that a brisk 30-minute walk is more effective for weight control than:

  • Running
  • Swimming, or
  • Gym

How many steps per day?

Australians average 7400 steps a day, less than 20% of adults managed 10,000 steps a day on average. [2] Americans  ~ 5000 steps, British  3-4000 steps a day. But remember that the popular 10,000 step target is not evidence-based. Swedish research suggests that adults should aim for at least 12,000 steps to maintain weight.  For those adults wishing to lose weight more effort is required– 16- 18,000steps/day And that is on top of daily activity like housework and gardening. (Raustorp and Eiger).

Is your exercise is aerobic?

You can deliver optimum health benefits if you raise your resting heart rate into the target zone for your age and fitness level. So a brisk walk will deliver more benefit that a leisurely stroll.

Here is how to calculate your target heart rate. Measure your resting heart rate when you are lying or sitting at the start of the day.  Count your heart rate for 15 seconds and multiply by four to get your rate per minute. You can work out your target heart rate for aerobic exercise using the table below [3]. Once you have done this, you can check your heart rate while exercising to ensure that you are reaching and staying in your target zone.


My top tips to build a daily walking habit

  1. Commit to a regular time in your day
  2. Choose comfortable clothing and a pleasant route
  3. Conquer your inevitable excuses
  4. Connect with nature and to your breath as you walk (see my blog post on breathing here)

If you would like to take the next step with Harry Armytage, complete the listening scorecard here

To find out more about what Sally Estlin does, head here

[1] New England Journal of Medicine, 2002, Universities of Boulder and Tennesee, Australian Bureau of Statistics

[2] 2011-12 Australian Health Survey

[3] Corbin et al, Concepts of Physical fitness – Active Lifestyles for Wellness 12th ed McGraw Hill

Photo by Tamara Menzi on Unsplash