Walk your way to fitness

Most of us know we should be doing more when it comes to fitness, but it can often seem like getting active is yet another chore on the to-do list of life. What if we were to tell you that there's no need to take out gym membership, buy costly fitness clothing or pull a muscle in your bid to get fitter, healthier and happier? Sounds too good to be true? Here's a simple, easy, free solution for you to try today. That solution is so simple it's been under your nose this whole time. Walking! Yes, that thing we all do on a daily basis since the day we take our first steps. Walking is a much underrated form of exercise which is useful for far more than getting from A to B. Walking can get you fit and help you stay there, boost your mood, help you shed body-fat and tone your muscles whilst building bone density. How to walk for exercise The great thing about walking is that you can do it whenever and wherever fits your schedule. You can walk to work and back, walk the dog more often (or for longer each time) or head out at weekends to new locations and explore the countryside. Walking is a great way to discover new towns and cities, or reacquaint yourself with your home town! And, of course, once you fall in love with walking, you can turn it into a real pastime by tackling some more challenging terrain. The UK is famed for its amazing landscapes. What better way to explore it all than on foot? Benefits of walking for fitness Walking really is a wonderful form of exercise. It's gentle enough to make it suitable for all ages and abilities. It's largely non-impact, so won't aggravate injuries or imbalances. It gets you outside, boosting vitamin D levels and raising your mood. Walking outdoors has even been linked with relief from depression. It can make a meaningful impact on fitness levels, and is a progressive form of exercise, meaning you can walk faster or for longer as your fitness increases. Do I need any specialist kit? All you need to walk safely and comfortably is a good pair of walking shoes, boots or trainers. Ladies would benefit from a sports bra, although this isn't crucial. If you think you might get caught out by this lovely weather, invest in a decent rain- and wind-proof jacket, and make sure you wear something reflective if you find yourself walking at dawn, dusk or in low light. Keep going... Once the initial excitement of your new fitness success has become routine, keep the motivation high! Pledge to explore a new bit of countryside or travel to a new area at weekends. Upload a new play-list onto your MP3 player, if you like to walk with headphones on. Enlist a friend to walk with you, or consider whether everyone's favourite walking buddy - a dog - is suitable for your lifestyle. Enjoy your next walk!

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