How walking affects heart health
National Walking Month
This May is National Walking Month in the UK. Walks will be organised all over the country to raise awareness of walking’s health benefits, and to raise money for good causes such as the British Heart Foundation.
As part of National Walking Month, Walk to School week will take place from Monday 20th to Friday 24th, when there will be a Happy Shoesday on Tuesday 21st. This is an initiative which encourages children to walk to school in the ‘happy shoes’ of their choice. There will also be campaigns with tips for people of all ages to incorporate more walking into their daily routines.
How much walking is enough?
Experts appear unanimous that even a small amount of walking – as little as 30 minutes a day at a brisk pace – can have a range of health benefits, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, some forms of cancer, insomnia, premature death, anxiety and depression. One of the advantages of walking is that no special equipment or facility is needed – it can be done in many different settings, at many different times.
Benefits of walking to heart health
Walking is understood to strengthen the heart and improve heart health. Thanks to exercising, the heart muscle is able to become more efficient in delivering nutrients and oxygen to organs in the body when it contracts. Because of this, walking regularly can reduce the risk of a heart attack, raise good cholesterol while decreasing bad cholesterol, manage weight and lower blood pressure.
A strengthened heart is able to deliver more blood with every heartbeat, and this, in turn, decreases a person’s average heart rate when they are exercising. Walking is capable of training the heart to be a more effective and efficient pump. Research suggests that brisk walking is comparable to running in terms of its benefits to heart health.
So for cardiovascular health, there are few activities better than walking. Remember, if you can’t complete a 30 or 40 minute walk in one go, there is nothing to stop you breaking walks up into 10 minute sessions. Get bored walking? Then how about finding an exercise buddy to chat with along the way?