Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Walk your way to a lighter you

Walk your way to better health and fitness

Most of us are looking for way to be more active. For many adults it's the promise of weight loss and improved health that offers the motivation to get off the sofa and out the front door.

If you're trying to find an activity that is accessible, flexible and leads to new and interesting places then walking could be the answer.

The facts make for good reading. Assuming one hour of walking for a person who weighs 10.5 stones then:

* Walking on the flat and at an easy-going pace burns 170 calories.

* Hiking or faster walking on off-road surfaces and up hills burns up to 400 calories.

* Backpacking, ie carrying a backpack while walking off-road, burns around 450 calories.

Almost anyone can take up walking as an activity. For those who are less fit then it's vital that you start slowly and build up steadily. Why not start by walking to the shops or out and about with the kids? Switch off the TV for half an hour in the evening and take your partner out for a walk.

You will see the benefits of walking within a week or so. Being outside and walking in the fresh air will give your skin a healthy glow, boost your energy and help you to start to lose weight. In the long-term it will also tone leg and bum muscles.

Over the next few weeks you should increase your pace a little and walk further. Then, once you can walk at a good pace for more than an hour, including some uphill sections, it's time to take your exercise off-road.

Walking on trails and in the hills burns more calories and boosts muscle tone - but it's also a great way to see more of the countryside. In or near to most villages, towns and cities you'll find a network of fantastic paths and trails that are ideal for walkers. Start by exploring some of those close to your home and then, at weekends, why not travel further?

Scotland boasts numerous waymarked trails to walk, along rivers, in valley, along glens and over hills. The views are usually guaranteed to be wonderful and if you take along some friends or your family then you can enjoy a walk and a chat at the same time.

Before you know it you'll be signing up to a guided walking holiday or taking part in a charity walking challenge. Oh, and the chances are you'll have also lost some weight.

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