‘If a medication existed which had a similar effect to physical activity [like walking], it would be regarded as a “wonder drug” or a “miracle cure”’ (England’s Chief Medical Officer 2010).
'Walking is the nearest activity to perfect exercise' (Morris and Hardman 1997).
The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend adults do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity – one way of achieving this would be walk 30 minutes on five days a week. The recommendation for children is at least 60 minutes every day and preferably more. Only around a third of people in Britain achieve the minimum recommended levels.
Inactivity is a key factor in the dramatic growth of obesity. 61% of English adults and 30% of children are overweight or obese.
All walking is beneficial, but for the greatest benefits to heart, lungs and blood pressure, brisk is best. You should be breathing a little faster, feeling a little warmer and can feel your heart beating a little faster, but you still feel comfortable and are able to talk.
Regular brisk walking will
Walking regularly at any speed will
Walking can help you manage and recover from certain long term conditions (as part of a care plan supervised by your doctor). Many patients recovering from heart problems find walking is a good way to recover their strength gently and gradually. Walking can help manage the side effects of cancer treatment and even prevent certain cancers recurring.
Walking improves well being and helps fight stress and depression
For most people, walking is the easiest way to meet physical activity recommendations. Walking is:
“Brisk walking has the greatest potential for increasing the overall activity levels of a sedentary population…[and] is most likely to be adopted by a range of ages, socioeconomic and ethnic groups” (Hillsdon and Thorogood 1996).
For a comprehensive summary of the benefits of walking, complete with full references, download our Benefits of Walking factsheet.