Walking… As it is something we do every day without thinking, we may forget, or even ignore the benefits of a good walk, especially in nature.
It can improve our wellbeing on so many levels, both physical and psychological, adding it to our routine is a great idea, even if starting with a stroll around the block.
What is walking?
How do we know the point at which one stops walking and starts running? When walking, only one foot at a time leaves contact with the ground, and in between steps, there is a period, even if very short, of double support (both feet touching the ground), while running begins when both feet are off the ground with each step.
What are the health benefits of this activity?
The benefits of regular, brisk exercise are immense: increased confidence, improved stamina, more energy, a better handle at controlling weight, longer life expectancy, and reduced stress. Should we add more? Possibility of reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, strokes, bowel cancer, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
But this is mainly for the body, what about the mind? Its benefits include improved memory skills, increased learning ability, higher concentration, and reasoning as well as improved mood.
How can I start?
There is no cost to walking, just a pair of shoes and the road ahead. It is important to consider one’s starting point and improve on that over time, fitting this exercise in every day’s schedule.
Should the weather be not suitable for doing this outdoors, there are great videos online, with classes teaching how to walk on the spot to music, often including arm movements and different paces to increase cardio levels.
Most popular variants
- Scrambling: it is an easier version of rock climbing, as it involves the use of hands to help oneself ascend a hill or mountain that is extremely steep.
- Snowshoeing: to distribute one’s weight on a larger area, snowshoes have a larger sole. The movements involved in this sport are different than traditional walking.
- Cross-country skiing: there are multiple trails that, while being hiked in the summer, are used for this sport during the winter months.
- Beach walking: this is a hobby but also a competitive activity, which involves doing so on compact or non-compact sand.
- Nordic walking: is an activity and a sport performed with walking poles; the use of the poles means more muscles in the body are involved and a higher heart rate is achieved.
- Speed and power walking: they both involve higher speeds without jogging or running.
In 2009 a robot that can jump three inches off the ground was developed by Tomotaka Takahashi, a Japanese roboticist, who named the robot Ropid and programmed it so it can walk, jump and run amongst other things.
The main variables for this type of exercise are the weight of the person and the speed at which the person is walking. As a general calculation, a person weighing 180lbs will burn about 100 calories walking a mile, while someone weighing 120lbs will burn about 65 calories; this shows how the speed of the walk matters less than the weight of the person.