Walking off the pounds

By PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, April 30, 2018

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IT'S probably the most common, yet underrated type of exercise practised worldwide. And while many of us trade it for fancy gym equipment, Gisel Harrow, personal trainer and fitness instructor at Hard End Fitness Factory on Ardenne Road, said that you may be missing out on reaping tonnes of benefits if you ignore walking as a form of exercise.

“Exercise does not have to be complex or involve high-tech equipment to be effective. In fact, walking is one of the most effective cardio exercises to gain results in weight loss with the benefits increasing when the exercise is targeted — farther, faster and done frequently,” Harrow explained.

She said that it is possible to lose one pound per week by walking and sticking to a targeted number of steps and consistency while maintaining a good posture. In addition, some health professionals suggest that you try to match your steps with the rhythm of your heartbeat for better heart and overall health.

Harrow said that walking does more for the body than help it to shed pounds; she notes that it improves and helps in the management of several chronic diseases as well as aids with the improvement of your overall physical and mental health. She shares some of the benefits below:

In order for the body to operate at its optimum, it will need energy which we consume in the form of calories. However, calories can, especially when consumed in larger portions than needed, be transferred into fat. One way of making sure that we burn those calories is by walking. Harrow recommends that we practise brisk walking as often as possible because in this way calories are burnt much faster.

Helps with building lean muscle

While many high intensity exercises break down muscle, walking preserves them even as you lose weight. This will ensure that even when you are not participating in intense exercise activities your body will still be burning calories aided by these muscles.

Trims the waistline

In a bid to lose weight, one place that many people seem to always desire to shed at least a few pounds is from the midsection. Harrow said that aerobic exercises such as walking is perfect for that.

It's gentle on joints

Walking helps reduce inflammation and stiffness in your joints. This is why it is often recommended for older people who generally struggle with arthritis and even osteoporosis.

Aids in managing chronic diseases

Many of us struggle with managing heart issues, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes, even with prescribed medication and the recommended diet. In addition, if you don't already have these conditions, walking staves them off by increasing heart strength and warding off obesity.

It improves the mood

Walking is like a mild tranquiliser from the peace that comes with interacting with nature, to the opportunity to meditate and clear your mind. Physical activity encourages the brain to release happy hormones which relieves general feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.

Noting that it is one of the easiest and most convenient exercises even for those with busy schedules, Harrow said that you should try to adopt walking as one of the lifestyle choices that you are committed to. She said that some ways in which you can achieve this are by taking the stairs rather than the elevator as often as possible, complete errands that are within close proximity by walking instead of taking your car, get a friend, your partner or older children to walk with you, use a fitness tracker for motivation, and if you have a dog, take it out for walks.

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