We all know that exercise is good for us and regular exercise can help with several menopausal symptoms. It helps to stave of weight gain, loss of muscle mass and improve our mood. We are advised to include a dizzying amount of exercise into our often already busy lives: aerobic, strength flexibility cardio… Just reading what it is you should be doing can be so exhausting that you need a nice lie down afterwards. Then there is the equipment, gym fees, clothes, space. The simplest, cheapest and most beneficial activity we can do is to put one foot in front of the other and walk…
Five Reasons Why Walking is a Great Exercise
- As soon as you step outside and start walking you have begun to exercise.
- You don’t need any special equipment, just a pair of trainers or even some comfy shoes (speaking from personal experience, maybe not high heels -that’s another story for another day).
- It’s easy to fit into a daily schedule: walk instead of drive, get off the bus a few stops earlier, get up and walk for half an hour before you settle down to watch the television.
- You can easily monitor your progress with a fitness tracker or an app on your phone.
- It’s an incentive to discover your local area. Find the parks, look up at the buildings, check out the trees and the little streets you would never normally notice.
Health Benefits of Walking
Fights cancer Macmillan say that a daily walk can cut the risk of some cancers by 40 – 50%
Makes your lungs younger Walking for an hour a day can reverse thirty years of gradual aerobic capacity decline. A US study saw 50 year old subjects regain the lungs of their 20 year old selves.
Strengthens bones Oestrogen helps to maintain bone density but drops sharply during the menopause. Bones stay strong however if you give them work to do and walking is a weight bearing exercise which improves bone health and increases muscle strength, coordination and balance.
Improves mood and lowers anxiety Walking triggers endorphins, decreases stress hormones and increases the oxygen supply to every cell in your body therefore improving your mood and reducing anxiety. Anxiety has been my main symptom of the menopause and walking never fails to lift my mood and make me feel less stressed.
Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes a large international study found that adults who were at a high risk of a cardiovascular event reduced their risk by 10% by doing 2000 steps a day, 4000 steps a day reduced the risk by further 8%.
Burns calories A long walk can burn more calories than a sweaty session in the gym. This is true for me probably because I flag in the gym, get distracted, stop and listen to my music and watch other people. When I’m walking, I just keep going!
It’s a great motivator for doing other exercise A very wise woman (Joan Collins) once said that energy creates more energy and I absolutely agree. I started walking to work, then swimming once a week, then I joined a gym and eventually became so enamoured with the way exercising made me feel (fit, healthy and sometimes knackered but in a good way) that I trained as a fitness instructor.
For motivation join Country Walking Magazine’s Walk a Thousand Miles in a Year’ Challenge.
It sounds like a lot (because it is!) but you can include all your steps or just the ones with ‘boots on’ that’s outside, including walking to the shops, to work, a stroll in the park or a more adventurous walk in the countryside. There’s a Facebook page too for encouragement, posting photos and commiserations when you just haven’t managed to walk as much as you intended to. After 500 miles you can declare yourself a ‘Proclaimer’ as in the song I would walk 500 miles and after a 1000 you become a Double Proclaimer. #walk100 0miles | Groups | Facebook
Alone or with friends, with music, a podcast or just the sounds of nature, walking takes you down the path towards a healthier lifestyle, one step at a time. For optimal benefits aim for 30 – 60 minutes three times a week.
Maybe not in these shoes.