Asking yourself ‘how much have I moved today?’ is a useful way to sense check your basic fitness. In this article, we meet up with Islington GP Dr Jo Sauvage for top tips on the simplest form of exercise… walking.
“Walking is a simple, free and easy way to become more active, lose weight and improve your health,” explains Dr Jo Sauvage, an Islington GP and Chair of Islington Clinical Commissioning Group. “In fact, regular walking has many health benefits and has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.”
How much walking is enough?
The NHS recommends at least 10,000 steps a day, although the national average is well below this target at 3-4,000 per day. If you don’t have a mobile app or pedometer, there’s roughly 2,100 steps from walking a mile. Pace is important if you want to see health benefits, with a brisk 10-minute walk hitting an average of 1,200 steps. A brisk walk is more than a gentle stroll, it means walking fast enough that you notice your heart rate increases, and you start to sweat a little. Walking is also a great way to improve mobility and mental health, spend time in your community and socialise with others.
Set your goals
It’s really hard to change your behaviour unless you make a really solid plan. It’s not enough to say ‘I’m going to walk more’. You really need to think about how you are going to integrate more walking into your day, and be very specific.
Decide when, how and for how long, and then build this up as the weeks go by. This way you can see clearly what progress you have made, which will be great for your confidence and will keep you motivated. Research shows that you are more likely to reach your goals if you specify how and when you will achieve these goals.
Think about where you would like to walk. Plan your route before you go, and start slowly so that you don’t overdo it.
A final word of encouragement from Dr Jo Sauvage: “Why not discover Islington on foot and explore one of our parks such as Highbury Fields, Caledonian Park or Spa Fields? Whether it’s ditching the bus, taking the stairs or spending time with a friend, take 10 minutes out of your day and go for a walk.”
Here are some common sense ideas to help you kick start your new healthy walking routine:
- Look to replace long periods of sitting with short bouts of walking
- Add some extra steps into your routine travel plans
- If you’re catching the bus, why not try getting off a stop earlier
- Make the change gradual – start with a few short walks per week, gradually building up
Call on friends and neighbours, invite them to join – walking is a great way to catch up
For more information on the benefits of walking, short nearby routes to try and local walking groups visit www.oneyouislington.org
Active 10 App
Active 10 is an app that monitors how often you are walking and if it is at a pace brisk enough to improve your health. You can set yourself walking goals, share your progress, and plan how you will integrate more brisk walking into your day. Search “one you Islington” to download the app.