New Zealanders love walking. In a 2012/13 survey, sixty percent of adults responded that they had walked for recreation or exercise during the previous year.1 This beat the second most popular answer, swimming, by 30%!
It’s not hard to see why walking is so popular across all age levels. This low-impact sport caters to people of all fitness levels and is easy to start doing. But did you know that walking also boasts some impressive health benefits?
Walking and Health
Regular, brisk walking—even as little as 10 minutes a day—can yield results, such as:
- Weight loss, or maintaining a healthy weight
- Improved heart rate and circulation
- Increased muscle and bone strength
- Decreased stress levels
Walking can also reduce the risk of certain health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and osteoporosis.2
Walking is an ideal exercise for people of all fitness levels. It’s relatively easy on muscles and joints, which means it’s likely to carry a low risk of injury. Even if you’ve previously been inactive, walking can be a good way to build up to the Ministry of Health’s physical activity guidelines.
Even though walking is a relatively safe activity, you should still start slowly. Increase the length and intensity of your walks over a few weeks. Start out on flatter stretches before tackling hills. Exploring your neighborhood or property may be a good place to start.
It’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor(s) before starting any new exercise program. He or she can answer your questions and assist in creating a walking routine that meets your needs.
Making the Time
Ten minutes per day of brisk walking may improve your health, but more activity is generally better. It can be difficult to find time for any sort of exercise. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to fit walking into your daily routine:
- Walk to your local shops instead of using the car.
- Get off the bus a stop earlier than normal and walk the rest of the way.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift, or walk up the escalator instead of standing.
- Join a walking club for support and accountability.
Working more steps into your day can be easy and even fun. Many volunteer opportunities require a good amount of walking. Contact a local animal shelter about walking their dogs, coach a youth sports team, or give tours of museums or historical sites.
You’re On Your Way
Whether you live in the city, suburbs, or rurally, New Zealand is full of beautiful and unique places to walk. From the inner city to scenic coasts or more adventurous tramping tracks, there truly is something for everyone. Get out there and start exploring!
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