Set yourself a challenge this Walking Month
May is Walking Month and the Public Health Agency (PHA) is setting everyone a challenge to count their steps and then try to do a bit more.
There are many health benefits of walking and adding a brisk pace to your step can help you feel good, reduce anxiety, help manage your weight, reduce blood pressure and help you sleep better. It is also very enjoyable and a good opportunity to socialise, which is also good for health.
Colette Brolly, the lead for physical activity at the PHA, said: “Many of us don’t know how many steps we take each day so tracking them is a great starting point as you can see how many you do, but also it can help you set yourself a target.
“The average number of steps a person takes each day is quite low – between 3,000 to 4,000 steps – so we could all do with getting a bit more active and walking is one of the easiest activities to fit in to your daily routine.
“For instance, if you have to take the car to work, you could park a bit further away from the building than normal and walk that little extra to the office. Better still use public transport. Research has shown that we are likely to be more active if we use other forms of transport.
“Think about things you normally do, like driving to the shops for milk, when maybe you could walk that trip instead.
“You can also enjoy walking together as a family and walk with the children to school, which will encourage them from an early age to be active.
“Walking groups can also be a good way to get started and it’s also a great way to make friends who can keep you motivated. There are many groups coordinated by your local health and social care trust so contact them to find out times and days that the groups meet.
“Also, while you can measure your steps using one of the specialist wristwatches on the market, you can also get free apps for your smartphone or buy a simple pedometer to see how many steps you’re taking each day.”
Share pictures of your favourite walks and tell us how you’ve increased your step count on the PHA’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/publichealthagency or tag us on Twitter @publichealtni and use #StepChallenge to encourage others to take more steps every day.
For further information on the benefits of walking, tips and hints to get started and contact info for your local health trust walking coordinator visit www.choosetolivebetter.com
The PHA’s ‘Take the Next Step’ leaflet has even more on increasing your step count and can be found at www.pha.site/step