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Walk30 - Walk your way to a healthier heart and a better mood

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Frequently asked questions about Walk30

If you’re thinking about taking part in our Walk30 challenge, or have already taken your first steps, we’ve put together some useful questions and answers to help you get the most of out of it. Don’t forget, you can also ask us questions about the challenge and let us know how you’re getting on through our Facebook and Twitter pages.

The health benefits of brisk walking are often underrated, but it’s one of the most accessible ways to increase your activity levels, lose weight, boost your metabolism and help build your resilience. As a form of moderate exercise, walking is a great way to improve your energy and lift your mood – not to mention being good for flexibility, joint mobility and reducing the risk of chronic illnesses such as, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and certain cancers.

What are the rules of the Walk30 #TRYit challenge?

We are asking everyone to take part in 30 minutes of brisk walking, 5 times a week. Your brisk walking can be split up into shorter 10 minute bursts or you can walk the full 30 minutes in one go. Walking continuously for 30 minutes will help to build stamina.

The aim is to find manageable ways to fit your 30 minutes of brisk walking into your daily routine. Why not walk part of your journey to work? Or take a walk on your lunch break? Take a look at some of the ways you can incorporate walking into your daily routine.

When does the challenge start?

The official start date is 3 April 2017 but you can sign up to the challenge at any point throughout April.

When does the challenge end?

The challenge officially ends on 28 April 2017. But there’s nothing stopping you from keeping the challenge up and making a healthy lifestyle change for good!

What physical benefits might I see from regular walking?

AXA PPP’s physiotherapist, Kristopher Robertson, has highlighted three of the benefits you might see:

A stronger heart: Exercise works your heart and makes it stronger over time. Having a stronger heart will mean your resting heart rate is lower as it doesn’t need to beat as fast. Having a strong heart helps to improve blood flow to all parts of the body.

Strength: Brisk walking builds strength in many muscles including the lower limbs. You may even find your core muscles become strengthened through brisk walking.

Prevention: Brisk walking for at 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week will help give you a stronger heart which can lower the risk of some heart diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

What are the mental health benefits of regular walking?

According to Dr Mark Winwood, psychological expert at AXA PPP, exercise can help develop resilience, improve low moods and boost self-esteem. And walking is a great way to start.

When you’re active, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin – the ‘feel-good’ chemicals, which are known to improve your mood. It also reduces harmful changes in the brain caused by stress and can help us to see possibilities, instead of feeling defeated. In other words, it can help us get some perspective on life’s problems!

What is a healthy resting heart rate?

The healthier you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be – that’s why we recommend measuring your heart rate before you start Walk30 and again after the 4 week challenge to see if there’s any difference. Most adults have an average resting heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute. If you have any concerns then it’s best to speak to your GP.

How do I measure my resting heart rate?

Watch our short video on how to measure your resting heart rate.

I can’t take part in the walking aspect of this challenge – are there alternative activities I can do that would have the same effect?

We’ve suggested walking because it’s a good starting point for many people regardless of their current level of activity, though we appreciate it’s not possible for everyone. There are many alternative activities that will get your heart beating.

I currently don’t do any exercise, is there anything I should be aware of before I take on the Walk30 challenge?

When you take on any new activity, especially if you haven’t been active for a while, you’ll not only be making your muscles work harder, you’ll putting extra stress on your heart and lungs, making them work harder too. With this in mind, it’s better to start slowly and gradually work your way up to moderate exercise. With our #Walk30 challenge, this may be a case of starting on a simple flat route, then gradually increasing the distance, picking up the pace, add in some hills on your walk, or simply increasing the time you are out.

Keep an eye on your breathing. If you’re struggling to walk and talk, you’re probably working too hard! With brisk walking, you’ll be breathing heavier, but you should still be able to speak full sentences.

After any activity, in order to avoid the dreaded muscle soreness the next day, you can do some simple stretches for your calf, thighs, and hamstrings, which you can do when you get home.

Is brisk walking better than jogging?

Jogging results in heavier breathing, and harder work for your muscles, so is considered a more vigorous exercise, compared to brisk walking. Whether you choose to walk or jog mostly comes down to your preference and level of ability. Starting daily jogs if you’re fairly inactive will place a lot of strain through your muscles, which may cause tightness in the lower body and potentially stiffness in joints. Like any exercise, it’s always best to build up gradually, making sure your body is adapting well to the increases in activity.

Some people simply don’t enjoy jogging and would rather go for a brisk walk. It’s important to enjoy the exercise you do, so you should never force an exercise just because it’s potentially better for you.

Is jogging for 15 mins the same as walking for 30? Could I jog on the spot in front of the TV to get the same benefits as walking?

This would really depend on how hard you’re working when jogging. But generally, yes, vigorous exercise, like jogging, generally counts as double when compared to moderate exercise.

Does it matter where I walk? Is walking uphill better for my muscles?

Different terrains will train different muscles. Uneven terrain, such as sand and rocky ground, will work your ankle muscles, while walking up hills will work your calf muscles more, and generally will be more challenging from a cardiovascular aspect.

If I miss a day walking, can I make up for it by doing an hour the next day, as long as I meet the 150 mins a week quota?

Yes, don’t worry! Our Walk30 challenge aims to help you achieve the weekly goal of 150mins of moderate exercise recommended by the government, by breaking it down into manageable chunks. The name of the game is really to get those 150 mins a week, so if you miss one day, you can do double the next day (as long as it’s not too challenging), or incorporate a few extra minutes here and there over the day few days.

Doing 30 mins of walking is tricky for me – will I benefit from 20 mins a day – is something better than nothing?

While we should aim for 150 mins of moderate activity a week, if it’s difficult for you at first, try setting yourself some realistic targets and then gradually increase the time you can do. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do 30 minutes of brisk walking a day. If you can only manage 20 mins a day, then it’s certainly better than nothing at all, and very much worth it. You might even be doing other activities already, without realising they count (such as gardening, housework, running around after children!)

I currently don’t do any exercise, is there anything I should be aware of before I take on the Walk30 challenge?

When you take on any new activity, especially if you haven’t been active for a while, you’ll not only be making your muscles work harder, you’ll putting extra stress on your heart and lungs, making them work harder too. With this in mind, it’s better to start slowly and gradually work your way up to moderate exercise. With our #Walk30 challenge, this may be a case of starting on a simple flat route, then gradually increasing the distance, picking up the pace, add in some hills on your walk, or simply increasing the time you are out.

Keep an eye on your breathing. If you’re struggling to walk and talk, you’re probably working too hard! With brisk walking, you’ll be breathing heavier, but you should still be able to speak full sentences.

After any activity, in order to avoid the dreaded muscle soreness the next day, you can do some simple stretches for your calf, thighs, and hamstrings, which you can do when you get home.

Is brisk walking better than jogging?

Jogging results in heavier breathing, and harder work for your muscles, so is considered a more vigorous exercise, compared to brisk walking. Whether you choose to walk or jog mostly comes down to your preference and level of ability. Starting daily jogs if you’re fairly inactive will place a lot of strain through your muscles, which may cause tightness in the lower body and potentially stiffness in joints. Like any exercise, it’s always best to build up gradually, making sure your body is adapting well to the increases in activity.

Some people simply don’t enjoy jogging and would rather go for a brisk walk. It’s important to enjoy the exercise you do, so you should never force an exercise just because it’s potentially better for you.

Is jogging for 15 mins the same as walking for 30? Could I jog on the spot in front of the TV to get the same benefits as walking?

This would really depend on how hard you’re working when jogging. But generally, yes, vigorous exercise, like jogging, generally counts as double when compared to moderate exercise.

Does it matter where I walk? Is walking uphill better for my muscles?

Different terrains will train different muscles. Uneven terrain, such as sand and rocky ground, will work your ankle muscles, while walking up hills will work your calf muscles more, and generally will be more challenging from a cardiovascular aspect.

If I miss a day walking, can I make up for it by doing an hour the next day, as long as I meet the 150 mins a week quota?

Yes, don’t worry! Our Walk30 challenge aims to help you achieve the weekly goal of 150mins of moderate exercise recommended by the government, by breaking it down into manageable chunks. The name of the game is really to get those 150 mins a week, so if you miss one day, you can do double the next day (as long as it’s not too challenging), or incorporate a few extra minutes here and there over the day few days.

Doing 30 mins of walking is tricky for me – will I benefit from 20 mins a day – is something better than nothing?

While we should aim for 150 mins of moderate activity a week, if it’s difficult for you at first, try setting yourself some realistic targets and then gradually increase the time you can do. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do 30 minutes of brisk walking a day. If you can only manage 20 mins a day, then it’s certainly better than nothing at all, and very much worth it. You might even be doing other activities already, without realising they count (such as gardening, housework, running around after children!)

The muscles in my feet feel a bit uncomfortable when I’ve been out walking but I wear trainers when I do it. Have you got any tips?

You might be wearing trainers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the correct footwear. The footwear you use can have an impact in different ways. If there isn’t enough padding in your shoes this can mean pressure being placed directly on places like your heel or the balls of your feet, and likewise if there is poor support in your shoes (such as if your trainers are worn out) you may put extra load on some of the muscles and soft tissue structures in the foot, causing some minor strains. So best to check your footwear is providing support under the arches.

Ironically, brand new shoes can also cause pain, because your feet may not have had time to adapt to them before hitting the 30 mins brisk walking. To help avoid this, it’s best to wear the shoes in before hitting serious miles in them.

A good way to deal with some post walk pains in your feet is to make sure you stretch! It’s not just the sole of the foot that needs a stretch though, make sure the calf muscles are stretched too, as they can also play a role in causing stiffness and pain in the feet. Another good way to work out some of the tightness and aches in your foot is to roll a golf ball or tennis ball under your feet.

If you have any questions throughout the challenge, why not #KwizKris via our Facebook and Twitter pages? Our muscles, bones and joints expert, Kristopher Robertson, will pick the best question to answer every week throughout the Walk30 challenge!

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