Though it may seem too good to be true, walking provides a multitude of vital health benefits. Here are the top three:
- It lowers the risk of diabetes
Research has found that just 30 minutes of brisk walking a day will lead to a significant reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Walking helps improve insulin sensitivity, which supports your body in making use of its glucose stores. It's predicted that one million Singaporeans could be diabetic by 2050, alongside 4.5 million adult Malaysians by 2020, so here's an easy way to avoid becoming one!
- It's just as good as other types of exercise
You can walk away from the risk of a stroke. A study that compared women on a regular walking programme with those who did more vigorous exercise found that the walkers' heart health was just as good as the more athletic group. It seems your heart is happy as long as the feet are active.
- It reduces stress
Increased blood flow to the brain, the release of mood-elevating hormones, and the simple pleasure of being out and about can have a positive impact on mental wellness. Researchers have also found that walking may improve memory.
You've got the 'why'. Here's the 'how'
- When running, stand up straight and pull your navel towards your spine as you walk. This ensures good posture and activates your core muscles – so you burn more calories. Now we know why well-meaning aunties always tell the younger generation, "Stomach in, chest out!"
- Pump those arms. The faster you move the arms, the faster your legs move. Try sprinting without moving your arms and you'll see what we mean!
- Keep your head up and your neck relaxed. By staring at your feet, you'll just miss out on the view and cramp your muscles.
Run in the city – where should you go?
If you think you don't have any nice walking routes, it might not be the place that is the problem, but the time.
- Many of us work in the cramped central business district, where rush hour is a pain. But what if you arrived at your office an hour earlier in the morning, before the streets filled up? Imagine: you'd beat the long lines for a breakfast teh tarik, and maybe even get extra face-time with your boss!
- Live nearby? Why not walk home from the office, or get off the bus half way? As Singapore and Kuala Lumpur both have subway systems, we often forget we can swap MRTs for MTF (my two feet).
- You know what's better than a cup of coffee? A few lungfuls of dewy morning air, before the streets fill with cars. The cooler air also means you won't be so sweaty when you sit down at your desk.
Have you been sitting down, staring at your computer screen all day? Grab your wallet and purse, and start walking! You'll find that confined sidewalks become your personal domain, and the city skyscrapers aren't hidden behind fellow commuters. You'll feel so much better in just a few minutes!