Walk your way to health

Sometimes I get carried away. I know that might be a surprise to some out there, but it’s true. I start doing all these complicated exercises. Jumping about with kettlebells flying this way and that. It feels new and exciting. I get sweaty and my muscles scream at me the next day. I’ve also fallen into the trap of poo-pooing the simple things. Because simply things surely can’t be as good as the crazy stuff I’m doing???
Well, I’d be wrong there. A recent study found that older women who walk for 40 minutes several times a week at a moderate to fast pace had a 25% drop in the risk of heart failure. It didn’t matter if those women were overweight or did any other form of exercise. Fantastic! Another simple way of improving our health in later life. It’s great news for anybody who doesn’t like the idea of joining a gym or doing other forms of formal exercise. The ancient Greeks knew all about the benefits of a good walk. Was it not Hippocrates who said “walking is a man’s best medicine” over 2000 years ago. Well, I’m not going to argue with him!
So what other health benefits can the simple act of going for a walk give us? Brisk walking can keep your brain working better for longer. Walking regularly has been shown in studies to reduce your chances of developing vascular cognitive impairment, one of the causes of dementia. There are also studies out there that have shown that walking can also improve, albeit slightly, the cognitive function of people already showing signs of memory loss and thinking problems.
Walking outside can also improve your mood. Regardless of where we do it, why we do it or what effect we think the walk will have on us. Contact with other people, getting loads of fresh air, interacting with nature and the sense of achievement of reaching a goal all seem to make us happy. This is probably down to how we evolved to move around to find our food and other rewards in the ancient past.
So there you go, get outside and stride on to a healthier you