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TURN your WALK into a WORKOUT

Can’t face the gym? Not a fan of getting wet at the pool? Step this way… Hannah Ebelthite looks at three fun, low-impact walking trends that can seriously improve your fitness – and your wellbeing

Walking offers so many benefits – not least for weight loss – and is so accessible, it makes you wonder why we’re not all striding around purposefully instead of getting the car out. After all, whether you’re on a treadmill, trail or commute, and doing it as transport, leisure or sport, you can go at your own pace. And it’s as invigorating for your body (and soul) as any other fitness pursuit.

Why is walking so good for our health? For a start, it’s low-impact and weightbearing, which helps increase and protect bone density and maintain muscle mass, while at the same time raising your heart rate, giving your lungs, heart and circulatory system a workout. What’s more, studies show that regular walking lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, some cancers and dementia. And it burns fat. An easy stroll at 2mph burns 75 calories in 30 minutes (based on a person weighing 60kg). Increase that to 3mph and you’ll burn 99 calories. Speed it up to a fast walk (4mph) to torch 150 calories.

If simply speed-walking to the shops isn’t enticing enough, we’ve explored three variations, which, according to our experts and enthusiasts, will really see your fitness and motivation soar.

Fitness

NORDIC WALKING

What is it?

Originally developed to help crosscountry skiers train off-season, Nordic walking uses hand-held poles to give momentum to your steps. You can use them on paths and pavements or off-road.

‘Unlike hiking poles, which are placed in front of you and used for stability, Nordic walking poles are placed by your feet. You use your arms to push them down and back,’ explains Carolyn Garritt, a London-based persof (oomph. london). ‘This works in two ways. As you push down and back, the poles propel you up and forwards, so you get more speed and bounce. But it also means it works your upper body more than ordinary walking. It requires more strength but you build more, too.’

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About Healthy Food Guide

Too busy to cook every day? Find out how the new calorie guidelines for eating on the go could stop you putting on weight (goodbye, coffee shop up-selling and unhealthy meal deals). We help you power up your walk to burn more fat and get more nutrition on your plate by pairing foods. Plus don't miss our 8-page guide to vegan eating - everything you need to know!