So you never miss a HIIT session or regularly run 10K before breakfast? But do you drive to work or the gym? Jump on the bus rather than walk when you’re late? Sit down when you’re on the phone? If you spend little time on two feet the rest of the day, you’re missing a trick. Building more steps into your day not only boosts your overall fitness, it also reduces your risk of some cancers, depression, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, says latest research. This spring sees the launch of two charity campaigns aimed at encouraging people to walk more. Living Streets’ #Try20 is urging everyone to add a brisk 20-minute walk into their daily routine during National Walking Month in May. And, Cancer Research UK’s Walk All Over Cancer invites people to sign up to walk 10,000 steps each day – roughly 8km. Already notching up 10,000 steps? Up your game and aim for 20,000 daily steps. ‘Taking on this challenge is a great way to get you walking towards a healthier lifestyle,’ says Katie Edmunds, health information manager at Cancer Research UK.
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Not only will it help you maintain a healthy body weight, but it can also help reduce the risk of 13 different types of cancer. Moderate exercise can protect you against a range of diseases.’ Hit your.
STRIDE QUICK RESULTS
Don’t assume these campaigns are just designed to coax sedentary people off the sofa. Everyone including the most dedicated gym-goer can reap the benefits of finding more opportunities to walk during the day. It makes little sense to do an hour-long workout in the gym but spend the rest of the day glued to your chair. If you want to get fitter, burn more calories and protect your joints by keeping them strong and mobile, the trick is to keep moving as often as possible. You’re more likely to keep your weight in check and have a lower BMI if you take a brisk 30-minute walk each day compared with doing another vigorous activity, according to a London School of Economics study. If you’re already pushed for time, you may think you can’t find ways to walk any more than you do. Trust us: you’re wrong! A few suggestions? Park the car a 10-minute walk from your office or gym; walk around whenever you’re on the phone; walk over to speak to colleagues instead of emailing them; always walk up the escalator; use the stairs, not the lift; hold a ‘walking meeting’; go for a walk at lunchtime instead of eating at your desk; and offer to go on a coffee run in the afternoon.
You could also leave your phone in another room at home so you have to rush to answer it – or hide the TV remote! PICK UP THE PACE Want to up the intensity? Even the shortest walk can be turned into a workout with one or two simple tweaks, says Dean Embling, master personal trainer at Virgin Active (virginactive.co.uk). ‘If you’re walking to the station in the morning, pick up the pace or seek out another route that’s longer or covers more difficult terrain,’ he suggests. ‘Try carrying a backpack with a book and a water bottle inside. Even a little extra weight will make your body work that bit harder.’ Build a few brisk walks into your gym workout. Embling suggests adding ‘active rest’ by walking around for 60 to 90 seconds between exercises. Walking on the treadmill can also be hugely beneficial. ‘You can make it more of a challenge without having to run and strain your joints,’ he says. ‘Try increasing the gradient. Not only is it trickier as you have to combat gravity, but it also activates more of your posterior chain – the muscle group responsible for most of your day-to-day movements, including squatting, jumping and running. ‘Or add some weights: Bulgarian bags [crescent-shaped training aids filled with sand] work very well. They make you work harder overall, and brace your core and glutes in order to remain upright.
Finally, if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have an opportunity to walk – during a long commute, for instance – at least vow to stay on your feet. ‘Always stand up on public transport,’ says Embling. ‘It might not increase the number of steps you take, but it gives you a chance to work on your balance and activate those all-important glutes.’ And when you’re tired of standing, of course, you could always get off the bus or train and walk the rest of the way.