Why Walking is Not Enough – Tips To Improve Your Fitness
Walking is healthy for the body. It’s good for the heart and improves circulation. But walking is just not enough, according to a new review from Public Health England, which revealed a major disconnect between the exercise people need, and what they do.
"Exercise lite is to exercise what lite beer is to beer. It's pretty bland stuff," says Paul Williams, PhD, and exercise scientist.
Yes, while your 10,000 steps a day or brisk daily trudge from a further bus stop are useful, you should also be looking at balance and strengthening exercises like Pilates, yoga, and weight lifting.
“People walking more… keeping up the heart rate... but [there is a] need for us all to do two sessions of strength and balance exercise a week,” said Louise Ansari, Centre for Ageing Better.
Improving strength and balance is vital for health and wellbeing. Completing 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity has been linked to a whole host of health benefits, including a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
It also helps improve mood and sleeping patterns, increases energy levels, and reduces the risk of an early death.
This becomes even more important the older we get. Poor muscle strength increases the risk of falls by 56% in older adults, and those who have fallen are three times more likely to fall again. Strengthening and balance activities help prevent this.
According to the review, 66% of men and 58% of women met the aerobic guideline – 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. But only 31% of men and 23% of women also did muscle-strengthening exercise, and that dropped to 12% over the age of 65.
“If you are a reasonably fit adult and you do walking, you should also do yoga or tai chi or resistance training which could be in a structured exercise class,” said Ansari.
The report concluded that combining aerobics with other forms of strengthening exercise is the best chance of living a healthy life.
“This mixture of physical activities will help us stay well in our youth and remain independent as we age,” Dr Alison Tedstone, head of diet, obesity and physical activity at PHE.
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