Walking is a great way to get all the health benefits of exercise, and nearly everyone can give it a go. Regular walking can help protect you against conditions like heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and many cancers. It is also good for your mental health, helping to relieve stress and make you feel better. Could you spare half an hour a day for all these benefits?
How do I get started?
Walking can be done almost anywhere, at almost any time. All you really need is a pair of comfy shoes.
If you aren't very active at the moment you might want to start with a shorter walk, on a flat route. You can add on a few minutes every couple of days, or 5 minutes a week - after a month you'll be doing an extra 20 minutes that way! After a few weeks you will probably find walking feels easier - you might find walking up hills less difficult, or you might find you are walking faster. Gradually building up the time that you are walking for will help your fitness to improve.
If you would like a plan to follow you can visit Take30, the Ramblers Scotland guide to walking, for a 12 week plan, or contact Health Improvement for more information.If you like walking in a group you might enjoy our Health Walks (more info below!).
How much should I do?
To make the most of walking you should aim to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week. This can be in 10 minute blocks if you don't have time for 30 minutes all at once. Or you could go for a long walk a couple of times a week - as long as you are still up and about and moving on the other days.
Some people use a pedometer or step counter to check how much they are doing. This can help you to be motivated, and can help show your progress. If you don't have a pedometer you can count up how long you are walking for, or use a map to check how far you have gone.
On average if you walk for 30 minutes you will go 2,500-3000 steps, around a mile and a half - this does depend how long your steps are and how fast you walk though!
Where can I walk?
In Shetland we are lucky to have lots of different routes and places to walk - we also have lots of challenging weather, so it is important to dress for the weather to stay safe!
If you are looking for inspiration you can pick up leaflets with local routes from Health Improvement (just pop into Grantfield Offices), or look on Walk Shetland for inspiration. It is a good idea to let someone know where you are going and how long you will be, and be sure to look after the environment by following the country code. If you fancy a challenge you could try "Geocaching" the worldwide treasure hunt - see if you can find what treasure someone has left!
If you are interested in walking in a group, getting to know other people who like walking and trying out new routes then Health Walks could be for you. There are walks in the North Mainland leaving from Ollaberry, Nesting, leaving from the Nesting Primary School - more details on the Paths for All website - get in touch for more information, we'll post updates on our Facebook and Twitter.