When gyms and fitness centres closed during lockdown many people took up walking to stay active — and for good reason, as the simple activity comes with huge benefits. The Heart Foundation is now encouraging Aussies to maintain their walking efforts as coronavirus restrictions relax across the country and gyms open back up.
“When gyms shut down due to the pandemic, walking became one of the few options Aussies [had] to stay active,” the Heart Foundation’s Trevor Shilton said. “[People] discovered or even rediscovered the joys of walking around the neighbourhood with a family member or pet.”
In fact, in a recent Heart Foundation survey of 300 people, around 30 per cent said they had been walking more since coronavirus restrictions came into effect earlier this year.
Shilton continued: “It reminded Australians that walking is free and easy, … [and] it’s a really simple way to get your recommended 30 minutes of physical activity each day.”
And we all know how important it is to get your 30 minutes in each day! From weight loss to strengthening your bones and even reducing the risk of chronic diseases, the health benefits are endless — and Shilton reckons a brisk walk is all you need to reap the benefits.
“[Walking] not only reduces your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions, but you’re likely to feel more energetic, have stronger bones and muscles, and feel happier,” he says.
Walking may also slow cognitive decline in adults, while several studies have also found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found just one hour of brisk walking per week can stave off disability in older adults with arthritis pain.
Walking is also a fantastic way to catch up with friends or make new ones. If you’re looking for a walking buddy, the Heart Foundation runs a number of walking groups all over the country, and the good news is most are starting back up again as restrictions continue to ease.
If you are thinking of joining a group, the Heart Foundation encourages walkers to download the COVIDSafe app, get the flu shot, bring their own hand sanitiser and talk to their doctor about whether joining or rejoining a group is advisable for them at this stage. It’s also encouraged to continue social distancing on organised walks by keeping a 1.5 metre distance from others and to stay home if unwell.