How simply walking more could transform your health and wellbeing in the New Year

It’s January – and that means that, after a Christmas period packed full of large meals, sweet treats and the odd tipple, millions of us are embarking on a diet or a detox in the New Year.

As we all know, eating well-balanced meals and clearing our schedules for exercise are two approaches that are key to sustained weight loss and improved wellbeing.

However, if you’re serious about improving your fitness in the longer term, there’s no need to invest in fad diet plans. You don’t need to shell out on an expensive gym membership, either.

In fact, all you need to do is increase your step count!

Why is walking central to our health and wellbeing?

It’s been proven time and time again that regular brisk walks can improve your health in a number of ways.

Not only can walking help you maintain a healthy weight, this second-nature exercise can also improve your balance, boost your coordination and strengthen your bones and muscles.

Walking promotes belly fat loss, because it improves the body’s response to insulin, which is often responsible for extra weight around the midriff. It’s easy on the joints, too, which makes it the perfect exercise for those with existing musculoskeletal conditions.

Do I need to walk for a long time to reap the benefits?

No! Experts say that just 30 minutes of walking per day can have a positive impact on your fitness.

If you have the time to walk for longer, by all means travel further to burn more calories and soak up your surroundings. But the general advice is, moving for just half an hour every day is enough to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Walk home from work instead of getting the bus. Leave your car at home and take a wander to the local shops. By making small changes like these, you can achieve amazing results in the long term.

Walking won’t just improve your physical fitness…

Going for regular walks won’t just improve your physical health. In fact, walking is one of the best things you can do to keep your mental wellbeing in check, too.

Regular walking unclutters the mind and lowers your stress levels. In this article, Dr Jampolis, the author of The Doctor on Demand Diet, explains that frequent low-impact exercise can even modify your nervous system over time, resulting in a “decrease in anger and hostility”. So if life is getting on top of you and you’re feeling particularly stressed out, a short walk could make all the difference to your mood.

Walking is also widely known to boost your self-esteem, which in turn reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

This is perhaps why more mental health charities and organisations are developing initiatives that encourage people to get active for the sake of their mental health. RED January, which is running in association with Mind, is one such scheme; it has been set up with the aim of providing its participants with “a goal and a focus in a characteristically tough month, empowering you to start the year as you mean to go on”.

(We’re huge supporters of everything RED January stands for, which is why we’ll be wearing red shoelaces when we take part in the London Winter Walk 2019 this month!).

How to prepare for your walk

If it’s been a while since you last exercised, it’s important to make sure you have the right tools and equipment to ensure your walks are a success and you’re encouraged to stick to your new routine.

First of all, we would recommend finding a robust pair of well-fitting walking boots. You don’t need to spend a fortune on the latest designer gear – but you do need to make sure that the shoes you choose are both comfortable and supportive.

Next, buy customisable orthotic inserts from OrthoSole. The support combinations available within our products are designed to boost support for the arch and metatarsal of each foot, reducing the stress placed on your lower limbs and improving your pronation and stability at the same time.

Once you’ve got the right footwear, it’s time to consider your walking posture. For the best results (and a more comfortable walk!), you’ll need to make sure your head is up, your upper body is relaxed, and you’re able to swing your arms freely. Be sure to walk smoothly, placing the same amount of body weight on each limb and rolling your foot from heel to toe with every step.

Mix things up by finding different routes. You’ll be more motivated to go for a walk if you know you’ll be discovering something new.

And if you’d rather not venture outside, you could always invest in a treadmill and step it out in the comfort of your own living room!

Don’t worry if you lose pace

There will be times when life gets busy, and you just can’t find the time to go for that evening stroll. There will be days where you feel a little under the weather and need to rest. It’s OK to take a break from regular walks if you need to – the important thing is to jump back on the bandwagon as soon as you can to make sure your new exercise routine doesn’t lose momentum.

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