Luton Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS Luton Clinical Commissioning Group


Blog: Walk all over an unhealthy heart

10 May 2017

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The cardiovascular clinical lead at Luton Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP, Dr Chirag Bakhai, tells us how walking can promote the health of your heart.

Most people would be clueless if they were asked a few years ago about how many steps they should take a day. But, with the rise of wearable fitness tracking devices, there’s a new walking challenge in the air… with more benefits than you might imagine.

The UK National Obesity Forum tells us that a person who walks 10 000 steps a day - almost five miles - qualifies as "moderately active". Those who maintain an active lifestyle reduce their blood pressure levels, risk of heart attack and stroke and improve their cholesterol levels.

Looking after your heart is really important for keeping well and staying healthy. Frequent walks and regular exercise can keep many of the conditions that affect your heart at bay.

Having high blood pressure can damage multiple internal organs, notably the heart and kidneys, and lead to serious health problems like stroke or heart disease. Those who have a family history of these problems or high blood pressure should seriously consider adding a walking routine into their daily lives and habits.

If you are having trouble finding or making the time to get an adequate amount of exercise, walking for just three separate times a day can help you keep your blood pressure low. Taking a short, brisk walk in the morning, midday, and in the evening can be just as beneficial as getting 30 minutes of daily intense exercise when it comes to your blood pressure.

Statistics show that the average Brit walks between 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day which is significantly less than the recommended target of 10,000. To reach this target you have to create some structure in your walking routine. That might involve walking when you go out for lunch – with the added benefit of the sunshine boosting your Vitamin D levels.

Walking also gives you time to think and mull over ideas. If you have problems at work or at home, a nice walk could help you to come up with solutions. Walking can help you reduce stress, relax your mind, boost endorphins and help you feel energised.

But it’s not entirely about the 10,000 steps. You also need to make sure you keep challenging yourself and the most important thing to remember is to not be sedentary. Many people do significantly more steps than this target, so set a target that is challenging for you!

A journey of ten thousand steps begins with a single step, so get your walking shoes out…

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