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This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Lace up your trainers and walk yourself fit

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

The research is in: your Minimum Daily Requirement of walking is 30 minutes a day to stop weight gain and to reduce health risks. A US Duke University study took overweight couch potatoes and walked them, or ran them, for 8 months, without dieting. The results - they lost weight, they lost inches and they lost fat. The control group gained weight. Time to lace up those trainers?

To lose weight and to keep it off, you need to get moving.

Walking at a moderate pace for 30 to 60 minutes a day burns stored fat and can build muscle to speed up your metabolism. Walking just half an hour a day is also associated with cutting your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes and stroke, while " strengthening the lower limb muscles such as the calves, hamstring and quadriceps, which protect the joints around the knee and hip," says John Miles, expert physiotherapist and head of medical services for the Cardiff Blues Rugby Squad.

It will also:

  • Get you fit, while helping to tone your bottom, thighs, hips and abs.
  • Increase your sense of wellbeing, and help beat stress and boost your energy levels.
  • Strengthen your bones.
  • Strengthen your heart and immune system, lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • Improve flexibility and co-ordination.
  • Encourage you to get outdoors more, so you're exposed to vitamin D-producing sunlight, which our bodies need to absorb calcium properly and maintain healthy bones.
  • Save you money, especially if you walk to meetings or work, which will you save you on travel costs like petrol and parking.
  • And most importantly it's a really easy way of fitting exercise into your day - how easy is it to just slip on a pair of trainers and commute to or from work, or go for an invigorating walk at lunchtime?

The benefits are endless - but how can you get started?

Getting started

"Walking is an easy low-cost way to get started on your fitness journey," says personal trainer Mollie Millington, "but as always if you have any health concerns like chest pain, dizziness or old injuries speak to your doctor to get an idea of how fast your fitness programme should progress." Once you have the all clear, you can then get down to the nitty-gritty and get those trainers on.

John suggests that firstly you choose a distance or time that you want to walk for. "There are two ways to burn more calories, walk further or faster," he explains. "Once you feel your body has become used to the distances you are subjecting it to, you can then start to either push the speeds you walk or even add an extra loop or circuit to what you are already doing."

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