Walking is one of my favourite types of exercise, because it’s easy, free and fun. It gets me out of the house and has helped improve my independence as well as my fitness.
Exercising is good for your heart because of its many health benefits, and can improve your mental well-being. It is also good for your wallet because it is completely free – you do not need specialist equipment or an expensive gym membership to go for a walk, for example.
I like walking in my spare time because it helps me to get some fresh air, I can spend some time with nature and I enjoy feeding the ducks on the canal near my house.
I go to Forty Hall and look around the lake and rose garden. Sometimes I stop at the café for a drink before going home. I also go to Trent Park with my Auntie. Together, we explore the woods and go to the petting zoo, which has chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, sheep, ferrets and deer. I enjoy visiting the petting zoo because I can imagine these animals living in the woods I have just walked through!
Walking is one of the easiest and simplest forms of exercise. It is a very good way to become more active, lose weight and get healthier. It is very easy to integrate into your daily routine and people of all ages can do it. Here are some of the greatest benefits of walking regularly:
- It is a low impact exercise (it does not put much stress on your joints)
- It can help to strengthen your heart – it lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure, reducing the risk of a stroke
- It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 60 percent
- It can help you lose weight since it is a cardio exercise (an exercise that raises your heart rate)
- Spending time outdoors, in the sunshine, gives us vitamin D, which keeps our bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
- It gives you energy – it boosts circulation and increases the oxygen supply to our body’s cells, making us feel more awake and energised.
Exercising is also good for your well-being and mental health. It can help people with mental health problems (such as depression, anxiety and stress) by giving structure to their daily routine, helping them feel better physically and acting as a distraction from their mental health problem.
Exercising relaxes the muscles, releases endorphins in the brain and relieves tension in the body. It also improves concentration, motivation, memory and mood, which can help someone with ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).
In contrast, a lack of exercise can have many negative consequences, including huge health risks. A sedentary lifestyle (where you are not very physically active) can lead to obesity and can increase the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
So-called ‘couch potatoes’ are also less likely to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain carbohydrates and calcium-rich dairy products – preferring highly processed junk food containing lots of fat and sugar.
Without fresh and healthy food, you are more likely to be deficient in many important vitamins and minerals. For example, calcium (found in dairy products) is important for keeping your bones and teeth strong. Vitamin C (found in leafy greens, broccoli and citrus fruits) is important for keeping cells healthy and encouraging wound healing. Omega 3 fatty acids (found in oily fish, walnuts and spinach) can reduce the risk of heart disease, depression and dementia.
Walking has helped me to get fitter and become more independent. A few years ago when I was at school, I could not go out on my own because I could get lost easily, which worried me.
I have learnt to use the bus but sometimes they get delayed or diverted, so it is helpful that I can walk around on my own if there are any problems with the bus. I have even learnt to come to Exposure on my own! I do this by walking from my house to my town, then getting buses and the Tube, and walking from the bus stop to Exposure.
Walking has helped me get out and about on my own, which has increased my self-confidence quite a bit.
For more information on fitness, exercise and healthy living, visit NHS Live Well.