First things first: make walking a regular part of your routine. Consistency is key. Whether you prefer a brisk morning walk to kick-start your day or a serene evening stroll to unwind, find a time that works best for you and stick to it. This consistency not only helps form a habit, but it also allows your body to anticipate and prepare for the physical activity, optimising your performance and benefits over time.
Need help getting started? Here are some good tips for creating your own walking programme.
Consider integrating interval training into your walks to maximise cardiovascular benefits. This can be as simple as alternating between a moderate and brisk pace. For example, walk at a moderate pace for five minutes, then pick up the pace for a minute, repeating this cycle throughout your walk. This technique can increase your heart rate variability, improving your cardiovascular health and stamina.
Like to learn more? This article by Harvard Medical School provides some resources to monitor your intensity using the Perceived Exertion Scale.
Walking isn't just good for your body; it's also beneficial for your mind. Practice mindfulness during your daily walks by focusing on your surroundings, the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, the rhythm of your breath, or the sounds of nature around you. This practice can help reduce stress and enhance your mood, making your daily walk a powerful mental health tool.
Here are six ways to enjoy mindful walking, according to research.
Varying your walking routes can keep your daily walks interesting and challenging. Different terrains and elevations can work various muscle groups and prevent your routine from becoming too easy or monotonous. Plus, exploring new areas or walking trails can be an exciting way to discover your neighbourhood.
Looking for inspiration? PlanMyWalk offers a number of handy resources and a handy list of recommended tracks across New Zealand.
Using the right gear can also improve the benefits of your daily walks. Comfortable, supportive footwear is a must to protect your feet and prevent injuries. Some experts also suggest buying a pedometer or fitness tracker to monitor your steps, distance, and heart rate, providing a motivational tool to help you reach your walking goals.
Pairing regular physical activity with a balanced diet can further boost your health. After a walk, replenish your body with a mix of protein and complex carbs to aid muscle recovery and keep your energy levels stable.
Stay hydrated before, during, and after your walks. Proper hydration aids bodily functions, including circulation and temperature regulation, and it can also help prevent muscle cramps and fatigue.
In conclusion, daily walks can offer numerous health benefits, and with these simple strategies, you can make the most of each stride. Remember, the journey to better health isn't always a sprint – sometimes, it's just a walk in the park.
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