The month of May is National Walking Month, as promoted by the British Heart Foundation.
Hitting the recommended 10, 000 steps a day throughout May will, of course, set you on track for better cardiovascular health. Increasing your physical activity also increases your energy levels and reduces likelihood of you developing other conditions. For example, active people are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes or osteoporosis.
On top of the physical benefits, walking can help relieve stress and improve sleep. Stress and poor sleep are factors that often play a role in long term pain conditions such as persistent back pain. Walking is also very rarely damaging to a painful back. The gentle movements through the back during walking help heal injured cartilage, relax tight muscles, and reduce sensitisation. Learning to trust your body again after pain is an important part of getting back to normal. (See our article, ‘Best Exercise for Bad Backs’.
16-20th May is also Walk To School Week. If a month of walking is too daunting, how about starting by trying five days? You might be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to change your routine.
How to Increase Your Steps
You may struggle to reach your 10,000 daily steps if you are reliant on transport and wonder where you could possibly find the time. Here are some ideas that may help:
1. If you use public transport, could you get off a stop early, and walk that distance?
2. Could you find time for a short walk in your lunch break?
3. Could you walk to the local shops next time you need a few things, instead of driving to the supermarket?
4. How about walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift?
5. Simply parking at the far end of the car park and walking to the station or supermarket helps.
If your body is the limiting factor in getting your steps in, come and see what we can do for you.
This article was written by Freya Gilmore, a Registered Osteopath within the Shefford Osteopathic Clinic team.