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Walk your way to a healthier lifestyle

In a world of expanding waist lines there are some simple ways to keep fit. People often join the gym or start a new sport but one of the easiest ways to stay healthy is completely free!

Why should you walk?

There is an obvious financial benefit to choosing walking as your exercise. Unlike some other activities, walking requires no additional equipment unless you like to hike, in which case you may need a good pair of shoes.

Walking can be surprisingly high for calorie and fat burning, especially if you are able to walk at a moderate-intensity pace. On average, a 15 minute moderate walk can burn around 80 calories. Taking three short walks a day can burn enough calories to cover eating:

1) a Dairy Milk chocolate bar

2) two slices of pizza

3) up to three bags of crisps!

Whilst we’d encourage you to eat healthy diets, it is good to know you can occasionally have a treat, guilt-free.

A study published in Diabetes Care found that three short walks each day after meals were as effective at reducing blood sugar over 24 hours as a single 45-minute walk at the same moderate pace. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're walking fast enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favourite song.

The NHS recommend walking 10,000 steps a day to help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.

You can break up your activity into 10-minute chunks, as long as you're doing your activity at a moderate intensity. Begin every walk slowly and gradually increase your pace. After a few minutes, if you’re ready, try walking a little faster.

Towards the end of your walk, gradually slow down your pace to cool down. Finish off with a few gentle stretches, which will help improve your flexibility.

Given the amount of time we spend at work, it’s the best place to start for thinking of ways to walk more each day. Go out for a walk at lunchtime, walk to the nearest shops or even walk to work (if you are close enough!). It is easy to fit walking into your day and shouldn’t require you to shower or get changed. Walking is also proven to reduce stress so by taking a little trip out at lunch, you can feel energised for the afternoon.

Good posture while walking is important as it helps keep your neck and spine healthy. Keep your head up, looking forward with relaxed shoulders and back.

Monitor your progress with a sports watch or a wearable fitness band to track your number of steps, distance travelled and calories burned.

Planning your walks

To discover the footpaths, bridleways and greenspaces near you, you’ll likely need a good map. Of course we have a range of paper and digital maps to help you get the most out of your walk! Our online route planner, OS Maps, can help you find anything from lunchtime walks near the office to weekend rambles anywhere in the country.

You can plan and print routes on OS Maps now with our online route tool, and if you're looking for inspiration, discover new quieter paths.

Getting started

There are plenty of resources available to help you get started with walking. The most important thing is to make it part of your routine – whether that is walking the dogs, taking the kids to school or just going out exploring. If, to begin with, you can only walk fast for a couple of minutes, that's fine don't overdo it on your first day.

We’ve got plenty of resources to help get you out and about. Our online route planner, OS Maps, can help you find anything from lunchtime walks near the office to weekend rambles anywhere in the country. You can search from thousands of routes created by others, or plan your own, then print a paper map or follow it on your smartphone.

You can also read our beginners guides to walking and Nordic walking, read up on walking etiquette or browse the full collection of walking articles for inspiration and motivation!

Discover new walking routes


Edited: 04/08/2020