Regular brisk walking is healthy for the body. The Department of Physiotherapy at Singapore General Hospital explains why.
Want to lose weight, tone your muscles and feel better? All you have to do is get going and start walking.
Walking can be done anywhere, anytime, and it requires minimal equipment other than a good pair of walking shoes and comfortable clothes. With more than 300 parks and park connectors located all over Singapore, walking is convenient and a fun activity that can be enjoyed by everyone in the family.
For even greater health benefits, try brisk walking. Brisk walking means walking fast enough to make you feel slightly breathless, but yet comfortable enough to let you hold a conversation with a companion at the same time. It is a low-impact sport suitable for everyone, regardless of your fitness level.
Speeds vary among individuals, but brisk walking usually requires you to move at least 5 km/h. You should experience a slight elevation of your heart rate, heavier breathing and you should start sweating a little after a while.
Benefits of brisk walking
According to the Health Promotion Board, regular brisk walking can:
- Help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
- Relieve stress and anxiety
- Improve your fitness and stamina
- Burn off excess calories and help with weight management.
Brisk walking is recommended to be done 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. If you are a beginner, or if you cannot afford to exercise for long periods of time, consider doing 10 minutes each day to begin with, and start by walking at a slightly faster pace than you are used to.
As you get accustomed to exercising, increase the duration by 5 minutes every 2 weeks, and increase your walking speed gradually. You could also do 10 minutes of brisk walking 3 times a day, which adds up to 30 minutes.
Brisk walking the right way
Brisk walking may seem straightforward but do remember the basics.
Ensure that you perform a proper warm-up, which means starting with a slow walk, then gradually increasing the speed of your walking over a few minutes, before reaching your desired brisk walking speed. This prepares your body for the demands of the physical activity and reduces the injury risk.
Be sure that you are appropriately dressed for the activity. Clothing should be loose, comfortable and light to allow unobstructed range of movement and to absorb perspiration. Shoes should be well cushioned and provide adequate support.
Mind the heat and humidity!
Considering Singapore’s tropical climate, it is wise to perform any outdoor physical activity when the sun is less intense. It is advisable to wear a hat and SPF 30+ sunscreen lotion even on cloudy days, and to reapply sunscreen regularly. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
PAR-Q that thought
In addition, Sport Singapore recommends that all individuals who plan to become more physically active complete a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q). The PAR-Q will tell you if you should seek your doctor's advice before proceeding with the exercise. If you are still unsure, consult a physiotherapist to obtain an individualised training program.
You're now all set to take the first step towards better health and wellness!