Walking - Health Benefits
It is recommended that every adult is Northern Ireland undertakes 30 minutes of physical activity each day (at least five) to benefit their health and combat chronic diseases such as Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke (Northern Ireland has one of the highest incidences of CHD & Stroke in the Western World).
Walking is one of the simplest, safest and most effective forms of physical activity which can be easily introduced into our daily routines and is suitable for all ages.
- Strengthens your heart, bones, muscles & helps control weight.
- Is free!
- Gets you outdoors helps you to relax and unwind and can help improve you mood.
- Is a way you can discover your local environment.
- Is social go with friend or join a group and make new ones.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause of premature death for both men and women in Northern Ireland. Someone who is inactive has as great a risk of having heart disease as someone who smokes or who has high blood pressure or has high cholesterol.
It has been estimated has just under 1/3 of all coronary heart disease incidence and 1/4 of stroke incidence could be avoided by undertaking appropriate exercise.
Regular moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking can help reduce high blood pressure.
Regular walking combined with healthy eating can help reduce weight and maintain weight loss walking just one mile can burn up at least 100kcal. Walking 2 miles a day 3 times a week can help reduce weight by 14 pounds in 3-4 months.
Regular physical activity significantly reduces the chance of developing type ll diabetes and helps to manage the condition. It is estimated that just under 1/4 of non-insulin dependent diabetes in those over 45 years could be avoided with regular activity.
The following may be gained at any pace:
- Mental Health Benefits Physical activity can help to reduce anxiety, stress, depression and can aid sleep.
- Increases good HDL cholesterol.
- Benefits immune system. Walking at a normal or brisk pace for one hour per day has been found to reduce the risk of bowel cancer by 40%.
- Reduce risk factor for falls in elderly. Physical activity can improve balance, co-ordination and joint flexibility.
- Prevents development of osteoarthritis and osteoporosis in certain groups. Regular walking can help to strengthen bones and therefore reduces the risk of osteoporosis hip fractures in over 45 year olds could be reduced by up to 50% with regular walking.
- Improves muscle strength.
- Increases confidence, stamina and energy levels.
The most recent Northern Ireland Health and Activity Survey (1994) revealed 7 out of 10 men and 8 out of 10 women fell below the recommended activity levels considered likely to produce a cardio-protective health benefit and 20% of the population was sedentary i.e. had taken no exercise in the 4 weeks prior to the survey. In addition 50% of people aged 16-74 are largely sedentary.