Stretch those legs with a stroll in May and beyond

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With April claiming the title as one of the wettest months since records began, it’s probably safe to presume that people will be keeping their fingers crossed that May brings warmer and drier weather.

One way to enjoy the (hopefully) better weather is to get outdoors and enjoy a walk.

This is particularly relevant in May, which is National Walking Month and is being supported by several walking and pedestrian organisations such as Living Streets and Walk England.

Due to leading such busy lives, it’s possible that many of us do little walking at all during the day.

We may drive or get public transport to work almost door-to-door and then sit at a desk all day before returning home to relax on the sofa all evening.

However, it’s important to make an effort to integrate walking into your daily routine, as it is incredibly good for your health.

So let’s look at the benefits of walking:

· It’s good exercise

Adults who are aged between 19 and 64 should undertake at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week in order to keep fit and healthy.

Walking at a pace faster than a stroll will get your heart beating faster and so is a great way to help you achieve this target.

It has been shown that walking regularly can help to reduce your risk of asthma, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

It can also help you build stamina and lose weight, as long as you are walking fast enough to raise your heartbeat and generate a sweat.

You should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day, and you can buy a pedometer to help you measure how you are doing against this target.

· It’s simple and free

Walking is a form of exercise accessible to many people, regardless of age or levels of physical fitness.

You don’t need to spend money on joining a sports club or a gym, and the only equipment you need is a good, comfortable pair of shoes or trainers that provide adequate support for your feet.

Practically anywhere is suitable for walking.

If you don’t particularly want to walk along main roads, research any parks, woodland or other green spaces that may be available near you.

Walking can be a great way to explore your local area and find places you would never come across when driving.

You can make a walk as short or as long as you like.

However, on longer walks, you may want to take a small backpack which includes some water, snacks, a hat and some sunscreen. If the weather looks like it might take a turn for the worst, it might be worth investing in a waterproof jacket to keep you dry.

· It can fit into your everyday life

Beyond putting time aside to walk in addition to your day-to-day activity, you could incorporate walking into the things you already do.

Perhaps you could walk the children to school rather than driving them, or park the car a bit further from work and walk part of the journey.

If you live close enough, you might even consider walking the whole distance, which will save you money on petrol or public transport costs.

While at work, why not walk over to talk to someone rather than call them on the phone? And instead of spending your lunch hour in front of a computer, why not go for a walk, either alone or with colleagues?

By thinking of ways to build walking into your everyday life, you’ll be well on your way to reaching 10,000 steps.

For more information on how walking can benefit you, visit the Walk4Life website at nhs.uk