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National Walking Month: How To Incorporate Walking Into A Busy Schedule
May is National Walking Month, which aims to celebrate the benefits of walking and encourage people to get moving. Walking is one of the simplest and most effective forms of physical activity and a great way to benefit your health in many ways! In this edition of the Dean Healthcare blog, we’ll explore these benefits, including why walking is important and ways to incorporate walking into a busy schedule.
Why is walking so important? The details!
As a Healthcare worker, you’ll be used to walking during each shift, and you’ll know that it is an important form of physical exercise offering many health benefits.
Regular walking can improve cardiovascular health contributing to a healthier heart, it can promote strength and stability through muscle growth and bone health and it can also help with weight management. As a low-impact activity, walking is also easy on the joints when compared with other physically exerting exercises and can be done any time of the day, making it both convenient and effective.
Frequent walking also supports stronger mental health through increased levels of endorphins through our bodies which provide a mood enhancing boost, while reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression at the same time. Walking can be a social activity too, allowing you to connect with others and enjoy the outdoors together. It should be noted that walking outdoors and in your free time, as opposed to solely during your shift, can reap many additional mental health benefits with the addition of fresh air for your lungs and exposure to sunlight, a great source of vitamin D. Furthermore, it can be a great option as an environmentally friendly mode of transportation when walking to or from work, helping to reduce your carbon footprint too.
What are the benefits of walking? 6 facts you didn’t know about!
We’ve explored some of the many ways in which walking can have a positive effect on mind, body and our planet. Now let’s take a look at some interesting facts you haven’t seen before:
- Walking can boost your immune system, helping to reduce the risk of infection. How? Increased blood flow helps to reduce inflammation and strengthen antibodies, helping your immune cells to perform more effectively
- According to Harvard Health Publishing, frequent walks can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease by up to 30%, stroke by up to 27%, diabetes by up to 35% and certain cancers by up to 20%
- Typically, walking one mile is equivalent to burning as much as 100 calories. Similarly, walking between 45 minutes to an hour each day can help burn as many as 300-400 calories
- Walking helps to improve mobility, coordination, balance and muscle strength which can help reduce the risk of falls by as much as 40%
- It can even help you to get a better night’s sleep. How? Walking during the day exposes us to natural sunlight, which entrains a strong circadian rhythm, promoting healthier, longer sleep. Some studies found those who walked longer and more frequently than average rated their sleep quality as higher too.
- According to Health Care Workers Foundation, the average Healthcare worker will walk as many as 61,000 steps a week, which equates to around 29 miles – more than a marathon!
I’m busy! How can I incorporate walking into my busy schedule?
It can be a challenging prospect to find time to walk, from juggling between work and social life, to running errands and wanting to use your free time to relax, unwind and rest. If you’re a Healthcare worker who is already achieving a high number of steps such as the figure in the fact above, here are some of the ways you can incorporate light walking into your schedule, outside of work, in an effort to boost your mental and physical wellbeing.
- Walk, don’t drive: If you have a short distance to travel and the weather is on your side, consider walking instead of driving. It’s a convenient way to exercise, and will leave you feeling happier without the road rage and traffic
- Take the stairs: Instead of taking the lift or escalator, go for the stairs. Walking one flight of stairs typically equates to 15-20 steps, multiply this several times throughout your day and you’ll be surprised how much more you’ll achieve
- Walk during breaks: Find yourself in a work rut? When it’s time for your lunch break, rather than sit at your desk, a kitchen or canteen, consider a light stroll. It’s a convenient way to get in more exercise, while ultimately helping you to unwind and de-stress and being doused in sunlight will give you a much needed boost of Vitamin D and an increase in levels of serotonin (the neurotransmitter than affects levels of happiness in the brain)
- Consider a fitness tracker: Using a pedometer, fitness tracker or smart watch can help you to monitor your current progress allowing you to track steps, set goals and boost motivation. It’ll also allow you to see where your main sources of exercise are formed, for example, at work, while walking a pet, or when socialising with others
- Take the longer route: Walking home, to work or while shopping, consider alternative routes. Although some might be longer, walking for an additional five minutes can help you walk 500 to 600 more steps than you otherwise would have. Walking for longer periods of time over continuous short walks reaps many benefits including improved mobility and stability and stronger lung function.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of walking. We hope you’ve found this edition of our blog to be insightful. National Walking Month is a great opportunity to celebrate these benefits and with our advice, we hope, can help you to get involved, promoting physical, mental and environmental health outside of the work environment. So what are you waiting for? put on your walking shoes and let’s get moving!