healthy walk fitness workout exercise

Just before lockdown in 2020, Hilary Mines, 54, was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. A keen swimmer, walker and occasional runner, Hilary realized she was now completely reliant on walking to maintain her fitness levels.

“I’d swum a lot, but when pools closed I noticed a difference in muscle tone,” she says. “Due to my diagnosis, I wasn’t able to run. Instead, I started walking with poles to keep my fitness up. It’s a great full body workout.”

Hilary, who has launched a community walking app called Trundl to inspire others, now walks between 3 and 5km (approx 2-3 miles) on weekdays and 8 to 10km on weekends. She’s one of many who turned to walking during lockdown. The Center for Research into Energy Demand Solutions found that 58 per cent of people were walking three days a week or more in summer 2021 compared with 36 per cent pre-pandemic.

The good news is a brisk walk can make us fit. “Our risk of mortality and coronary heart disease is decreased by being active, raising the heart rate, and improving our circulation,” says Arj Thiruchelvam, a performance coach from performancephysique.co.uk. “Walking, just like running, swimming or cycling, can be a substantial cardiovascular workout.”

Rachael Mackenzie, physiotherapist and director at workathlete.com, agrees. “People who walk regularly have improved body composition, cardiovascular function, VO2 max, bone health and metabolic risk factors,” she says. “Across every kind of health metric, walking has a place in nudging the dial positively.”

Depending on your level of fitness, a brisk walk on the flat may be enough to boost your cardiovascular function. But, if you are reasonably fit, there are other ways of turning a walk into a workout.

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