Personally, I use morning walks as an opportunity to wake up my body and mind so that by the time I get home I am energised to engage in the day. (A great alternative to needing that coffee hit.) It’s also when I relish the moment to breathe in fresh air, enjoy my natural surrounds with the morning sun kissing my back, and have a half-hour all for myself, free from the mobile phone, emails and demands of what the day ahead will involve. A relaxing and energising way to start the day.
Oh, and just so we’re clear… walking is not the lazy person’s version of running. It is an excellent low-impact workout with head-to-toe health benefits on both a physical and emotional level.
The American College of Sports Medicine, the peak body for sports medicine in the world, recommends the following guidelines for healthy adults under the age of 65 years:
~ 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise 5 days a week OR 20 minutes of vigorous intensity cardiovascular exercise each day
~ and strength training exercise 2 times a week
One example of that 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio is walking.
Walking helps to keep you fit, walking helps you to lose weight, and walking helps you to keep that weight off. Walking is also extremely beneficial for the health of your heart. In fact, a recent Harvard study shows that walking at a moderate pace (3 miles per hour / 4.8 km per hour) for 30 minutes a day can cut the risk of heart disease in women by as much as 40%. Along with its benefits to the heart, walking:
~ improves circulation
~ helps improve breathing
~ combats depression
~ improves the immune system
~ helps prevent osteoporosis
~ helps prevent and control diabetes
~ helps control weight
With spring in the air, there’s no better time to get up a measly 30 minutes earlier and walk your way to a happier and healthier body and mind.
~ leave the mobile phone at home, or turn it off if you must have it on you.
~ leave the hand weights at home – they strain joints.
~ focus on your breathing by inhaling slowly through your nose for 4 steps, holding your breath for 2 steps, and exhaling for 4 steps. Then wait another 2 steps before inhaling again.
~ take notice of your surroundings and senses to help you to stay in the present. Notice the leaves in the trees, the sun on your back, the smell of cut grass or the ocean.
~ to boost cardio benefits do speed intervals. Alternate one minute of walking at moderate intensity with one minute of walking at vigorous intensity. Repeat 10 times and then take a 5 minute cool down.
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