Walking your way to better health
Walking more is a great way to increase your level of physical activity. Walking can:
- improve your heart health
- help you lose weight or keep it off
- increase your confidence, stamina and energy levels.
And of course, being physically active helps to reduce your risk of cancer and other serious diseases.
Fit walking into your daily routine
Walking is so flexible that you can fit it into your daily routine. You don’t need to buy special walking shoes or join a gym - just try to walk a little bit more throughout the day.
- If you can, walk to or from work. If you take public transport, try getting off a stop earlier and walk from there. After all, most of us would like to spend as little time as possible in the rush hour crush!
- Take the stairs instead of the lift. If you work on a high floor, try getting off the lift a floor earlier and walk up. You can then increase the number of floors you climb, as you get fitter.
- Go for a short walk at lunch-time rather than sitting for the whole break.
- Walk to the shops instead of taking the car or bus.
- If you sit down for long periods of time try having a quick break every hour or so to walk around.
- Take a walk with friends or family - enjoy the countryside, local parks or a trip to the shops on foot.
You don’t have to walk for a long time - every little bit adds up. And don’t worry if you think you’re unfit. Build up the amount you walk gradually.
Try using a pedometer
A pedometer is a small step counter that you clip to your belt or waistband. It contains a pendulum that registers every step you take so that you can see how much walking you do each day.
Some pedometers also work out the distance you have walked and the calories you have used. But these measurements tend to be inaccurate. So you only really need a pedometer that counts the number of steps you take.
Set yourself a target of 10,000 steps
Some people find targets helpful when they are trying to increase their walking. Aiming for 10,000 steps a day is a good target.
This is not a magic number and you may want to try for more or less steps. But taking around 10,000 steps a day is a useful guide if you want to become physically active and maintain a healthy body weight. Walking an extra 5000 steps a day (about 40mins walking at a brisk pace) will burn about 1240 calories over a week.
Find out the number of steps you take on a 'normal' day before you try to increase your walking. This will give you some idea of how many more steps you need to do. Keeping a log of the steps you do each day can help you monitor your progress.
Walking for cancer patients
Researchers believe that gentle exercise can also help people during and following cancer treatment. If you are a cancer patient and want to walk more, check with your doctor first. More information on living with cancer is available on CancerHelp UK.
Our Ten Top Tips page has more advice on reaching a healthy body weight through healthy eating and physical activity. Ten Top Tips is a programme for weight loss through lifestyle changes that you can fit into your daily routine.
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team