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Sorry, no way round this one, you have to move that body to empower your self-care and walking is cheap and easy.

Walk: upstairs, round the block, to work, in the park, on the treadmill, up into the hills, or like me on the beach every morning (it's one of the things I'm eternally grateful for ... having this little beach just down the road). It has to be convenient for you, that way you are more likely to do it. A friend of mine tells me that when she's travelling and can't get a regular walk she asks for a hotel room on an upper floor and walks the stairs a few times every day. Simply not taking the lift, parking the car and walking - simple lifestyle changes can have tremendous rewards and they don’t cost a penny.

Our bodies are designed to move. We've spent millions of years walking, yet in less than 100 we've become sedentary animals. This is having a profound effect on our health in the West. Moving helps eliminate toxins from the body, stops fluids and energy stagnating – where there is pain or problems in the body there will be stagnation.

According to the World Health organisation – inactivity is now a greater cause of illness than smoking!

Conversely, a daily stroll is as close to a magic bullet as you'll find in self-care. It can help anything and everything: the best way to lose weight, avoid illness and improve your mood and brainpower is to take a daily walk. My neighbour has been doing it for a year and has lost 10 kilos (he changed nothing else in his life). His tip? he listens to audio books while he walks and often, because he wants to finish a 'chapter' he'll walk further!

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh recently revealed that overweight people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost 7 lbs in about 18 months even if they didn't change any other lifestyle habits

You can probably skip this list as I think we all know that benefits include:

  • Reducing stress which is at the root of all dis-eases.

  • Can help put your mind into neutral for a while.

  • Reducing blood pressure.

  • Reducing cholesterol levels.

  • Helps prevent cancer.

  • Tackles depression, it can be as effective as anti depressants [according to report from the Mental Health Foundation in 2005].

  • Wards off diabetes.

  • Helps hypertension.

  • Helps osteoporosis.

  • Produces endorphins, the body’s happy hormone, so you feel a whole lot better and more optimistic.

  • An increase in vitality and stamina.

  • Excellent for the cardio vascular system.

  • Increases effectiveness of the lymphatic system.

  • Strengthens lungs.

  • Can help get rid of headaches and migraines.

  • Gets the metabolism going, burns calories and reduces appetite. It is an ideal fat-burning activity.

  • Gives your skin a really healthy bloom and eyes become sparkling and clear.

  • Builds confidence and mental well-being.

  • Evidence is emerging that it may help reduce the risk of dementia by as much as 50% according to a study reported in Lancet Neurology.

  • Aids restful sleep.

  • Helps maintain a balanced body chemistry.

  • Boosts the immune system and therefore lessen food intolerances.

  • Builds strength in muscles and bones.

  • Improves flexibility of joints and muscles.

I think that is a pretty impressive list for something that is 100% free!

Where and when: choose somewhere with a good surface, if it is too uneven or difficult it can put a strain on the ligaments of the ankles and knees. While the photo of me walking on the beach looks perfect, I'm choosy about the camber and hardness of the sand so it doesn't aggravate my knee (more of my knee in other blogs!).

Walking buddy – if you are anything like me, there is always a good excuse not to do something I know is good for me: the plants need watering, must do the ironing, must de-tangle the dog, must clean the floor, do the washing, paint my nails, check my emails etc., etc.,

Get a walking buddy, agree a schedule and pride will make you both turn up!

Pedometer – aim for 10,000 steps a day [people average 3,000].

Heart Monitor –this comprises of a strap worn around the chest and a computerised wristwatch. You enter your personal details and it works out your fat burning ‘zone’ and then becomes your own personal trainer, buzzing annoyingly if you fail to stay in your ‘zone’.

Plenty of water – take two of the smaller plastic bottles of water and use as hand-weights, sipping them throughout the walk. It is vital that you do not become dehydrated.

Footwear – Leave the platform shoes, flip flops and stilettos at home. ‘Sensible’ shoes or trainers that are well cushioned and supportive are what you need. Using your old running trainers for walking will do you no favours as they are generally high at the heel to control the motion of the rear foot but this feature is not necessary for walking and only causes you to overwork your shin muscles, resulting in soreness and inflammation.

There are many excellent brands of supportive shoes around now. Use your commonsense to choose one that suits your foot, style and pocket.

Walk tall – imagine a piece of string is attached to the top of your head, pulling you up to the sky. At the same time ‘tummy tuck’ and don’t forget BREATHING – work the lungs by taking full breaths and exhaling completely.

Tummy tuck: pull your navel right in towards your spine as far as you can and then release 50% and THAT is how your core/abdominal girdle should be, firm and strong, keeping you upright and relieving unnecessary stress on the back. (Do it right now!).

Walk with right leg and left arm swinging forward then left leg and right arm This diagonal patterning will keep your energies crossed which means the walk will energise rather than tire you.

Don’t walk with rigid, straight arms. Gently bending the arms and swinging them backwards and forwards encourages a good speed and pumps blood and lymph around the upper body.

Tap your K27 points before you start. This ensures your energies are running in the right direction. If your energies are running backwards the walk can make you tired, as you will be walking against the flow rather than with it.

The benefits of tapping these points include:-

Flips’ energy into it's default forward flow which means your walk will energise your entire system and brings a flow back into your life.

Brings clarity to thought. Improves focus and concentration.

Smile and tap for 5 seconds.

Make it a meditation - simply notice what is around you: what can you smell, see, and hear? How does the sun or wind feel? Noticing these things with all your senses will bring you into the present moment, away from the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow.

GETTING STARTED – if you are under medical supervision or have any doubt whatsoever as to your health and ability to exercise, it makes sense to check with your doctor before you begin.

Once you make that decision to start, take it slowly at first, perhaps just a 10 minute walk around the block at a normal, comfortable speed. No travelling or extra effort involved whatsoever – what could be easier and you could be taking your first steps to changing your life?

Do it once or twice a day.

Slowly increase your time, distance and speed. Don’t overdo it. Walk within your own fitness ability; just nudge the boundaries gently every time you go out.

Pushing yourself too hard at the beginning is one of the reasons people give up. You are building up a comfortable but effective fitness routine that you can keep up for the rest of your life so it is important that it is enjoyable and fits into your day easily.

Aim for 30-40 minutes – maybe you have the time to walk for an hour.

Who knows, you may even become a hiker and really explore your local region!

The Energetic Pilgrim: I love walking so much I took five weeks and walked the Camino de Santiago, across northern Spain, and am now in training for doing it all over again in a few years.

A BRISK PACE – can be defined as a little faster than your normal walking pace, pretend you are in a hurry to catch a bus. If you are with your walking buddy you should still be able to hold a conversation. Nevertheless, getting a little bit sweaty and slightly breathless is the key to success.

WARMING UP AND COOLING DOWN – although walking is low-impact and you are using familiar muscles, warming up and cooling down will improve performance and prevent injury.

Simply top and tail your walk with 5 minutes at a normal pace. This keeps the blood flowing through the muscles and any lactic acid that has built up inside the muscle cells will be dispersed in the circulation to the liver where it is broken down and eliminated. This helps avoid problems such as cramps, muscle soreness and stiffness.

If you do feel a little stiff, stretch out the lower back, calves, hamstrings and quadriceps.

Once you are a regular walker, you may like to join a walking club for more ambitious hikes.

But I am jumping ahead too far, too fast …… first of all, get up out of that chair and walk around the block for ten minutes …. Start walking your way back to healthy happiness.

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