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Spring Health: Getting back into the outdoors

Walking is a simple and free way to improve your physical and mental health, making it the ideal way to get yourself into a healthy routine for the summer ahead. Here we've taken a look at the specific benefits that walking for exercise offers, to give you a little motivation!

Physical benefits

Walking is a great, low-impact activity that almost any able-bodied person can do - and if you have no exercise regime in place at the moment, it's a great way to bring more movement and activity into your day. The NHS advises that walking can reduce the risk of a number of chronic illnesses, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain forms of cancer. That's because walking around gets your heart rate up, which gives your circulatory system a good workout.

You'll also notice an improvement in joints and tension. Walking is a weight-bearing activity, which means you're using and strengthening your bones as you walk. You're also using muscles that support that skeletal structure, keeping arthritis and chronic joint pain at bay.

For many, the main highlight of walking is that, for such a simple activity, it's great at burning calories, making it a great starting activity for those trying to lose weight. Minnesota's Mayo Clinic has a great resource which shows you just how many calories you could burn from an hour of walking - at a brisk pace that's about 300 calories!

Mental health benefits

Walking isn't just good for the body - it's good for the brain, too, on a physical and chemical level. Physical exercise has been proven to reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 50 per cent, and as we get older the exercise also helps us to preserve memory function.

Like any other exercise, walking also makes you feel happier and more positive, thanks to the release of endorphins when your body gets a workout. You'll also find a good spring walk to be a good time to practise mindfulness, which we touched on in our blog in January. By taking some time out of your busy life to walk and notice your surroundings, you can bring your mental wellbeing back to a calm and centred state - leaving you happier, healthier and ready to face the rest of the year!

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