May is National Walking Month, so with lockdown still in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, walking both for weight loss and general fitness and health has become a key part of our lifestyles.
And now with lockdown restrictions eased, we can get out for much longer strolls and hikes. So we’ve rounded up our top tips to help you get the most out of your daily walks…
1. An alternative to 10,000 steps
Struggling to get to 10,000 steps a day? Turns out three 10-minute marches could be all you need. TV presenter Dr Michael Mosley teamed up with Sheffield Hallam University to compare the benefits of walking 10,000 steps (around five miles) a day against what he calls “Active 10”, which consists of three brisk, 10-minute walks (around 1.5 miles) a day. Results showed the Active 10 group were more likely to hit their targets and also managed 30 per cent more moderate-to-vigorous activity than the 10,000 steps group, despite moving for less time. So, it’s not all about the number of steps you take.
Check out Dr Mosley’s Active 10 in his Fast 800 lifestyle programme.
2. Care for your joints
Walking helps lubricate your joints but you can give them a helping hand too with rose-hip. Studies have found that galactolipid, a potent compound derived from this little fruit, can play a vital role in cartilage protection and regeneration. It’s also rich in vitamin C, which helps to grow and repair body tissues. Try GOPO® Joint Health (£18.99).
3. Try using walking poles
Walking poles can make a real difference to the comfort and results of your walk, run or climb, whatever your age. When using them, make sure your forearms are at 90 degrees to your body when holding the poles out in front, with the tips on the ground. Try Leki’s Micro Vario Carbon Lady (£164.95) which are adjustable in length!
4. Walk with purpose
Take part in your very own charity walk every day with Charity Miles (free, iOS and Google Play), a walking app with a difference. Simply download then register your favourite charities. For every mile you walk, a donation will be made to your charity from a corporate sponsorship pool. You can even get friends to sponsor you, too.
5. Backpacks with a conscience
Sandwiches, spare clothing, first aid kit – just some of the essentials for a day’s hiking, but how to carry it all? Millican’s new bright and funky Rollpack (from £70) is perfect for both seasoned ramblers and occasional meanderers alike. It’s lightweight and waterproof and comes in two different sizes. Every pack is made from 26 plastic bottles, which would otherwise have ended up at landfill.
6. Spice up your walks
Ever wished you were walking around the Grand Canyon or through the streets of Paris rather than round your local park? Well with Virtual Walk (free, the app store) you can! This quirky app plots your distance and takes you on a virtual walk of a different place. You can view photos and information about the sights on your virtual walk at checkpoints along the way.
7. Strengthen your feet
Your feet feel the full force of every step you take, so with this in mind, the experts at DW Fitness First have put together some exercises to help strengthen your feet before a long trek…
Heel Raises: Stand with just the balls of your feet on the edge of a step and allow your heels to drop as far as you feel comfortable. Hold for five secs, lift and repeat.
Toe Walks: Bring yourself up onto your toes, being careful to keep a straight line through your ankles, and simply walk forward on your toes. Start with 10 steps on each foot then increase by five each day.
Toe Resistance: Place an elastic band fairly tightly around all five toes, about halfway up, then try to splay them as far apart as possible. Hold for 5-10 secs. Relax and repeat a few times.