“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world’” – Marilyn Monroe

Posted by Heather Doggett on 26 April 2019

The only ‘right’ shoes this month are a pair of well-fitting walking shoes that provide both cushioning and arch support because May is National Walking Month. 

As the owner of Daisy, the slightly chubby black Labrador, I do get to walk daily and on average I probably walk 3 miles per day – but really, how good is walking?

It is recommended that adults achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity (of moderate intensity) per week – currently 26% of UK adults have less that 30 minutes of physical activity per week.  Walking is simple and free.  It is a low-impact form of exercise that provides a productive workout when performed at a pace of 3 to 4 mph – a brisk pace rather than a stroll.  You should be able to talk, but not sing the words to a song.  You could also try using the free Active 10 app on your smartphone.  This tells you when you’re walking fast enough and suggests ways to fit in some more brisk walking.

Not only does walking activate the circulatory and cardiovascular system, it will help to strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves and core.  It can help build stamina and, of course, burn calories.

There’s a whole range of health benefits to walking. For example, it can reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and stroke, high cholesterol, diabetes and coronary heart disease.  Studies have suggested it can also support mental health by improving mood, reducing stress and provide mental and emotional satisfaction.  Scientists think that exercise causes the release of particular hormones (chemicals produced naturally by your body) called endorphins. These may create a ‘natural high’, bringing about changes in the body that make you feel better and happier.

The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit. Think of ways to include walking in your daily routine, for example:

  • walking part of your journey to work
  • walking to the shops
  • using the stairs instead of the lift
  • leaving the car behind for short journeys
  • walking the kids to school
  • doing a regular walk with a friend
  • going for a stroll with family or friends after dinner

Living Streets is the UK charity for everyday walking – the charity is 90 years old this year and in their formative years their campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossing and the introduction of speed limits.  Their mission is to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more.  This is why they are running ‘walking works’ a programme to embed the culture of walking to work and whilst at work into workplaces and ‘walk to school’, a campaign aimed at reversing the decline in the number of children walking to school, from 70% a generation ago to now less than half. Studies have shown that children who walk to school do better in class because they arrive refreshed, fit and ready to learn.

If the social element of walking appeals then look no further than the Ramblers – they organise group walks for health, leisure and as a means of getting around for people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of fitness. Their website has details of many locally organised walks in towns and cities, as well as the countryside.

As for Daisy and I, we will definitely continue our daily walks and hopefully we will see more of you walking as the summer months approach – stop and say hello, but make sure you have a treat with you for my girl!

Alison Lambert, Lead OH Advisor