Why twenty minutes?
The benefits of the first twenty minutes of exercise have been researched by Professor Frank Booth PhD and others all over the world. He suggests that after twenty minutes the rate at which the major life extending and health problem avoiding benefits are accrued drops off very quickly, so it seems it’s better to walk twenty minutes each day than it is to go for a walk of an hour and a half just once a week, when you probably wouldn’t be able to maintain the same brisk pace.
You could even try two twenty minute sessions in a day but we don’t have confirmation about how much more you would benefit.
Walking for more than twenty minutes will, however, lead to more cardio-vascular benefits, improve leg strength and use a few calories, useful if you are trying to control your weight.
The recommended minimum exercise recommended by health services is 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise (brisk walking is classed as moderate exercise). Seven 20 minute sessions will almost achieve that. You’ll have to find another ten minutes during the week. Only a small percentage of the population achieve this target. So make yourself one of the ‘special ones’.
Make it measurable
To keep your walking interesting and a challenge it’s a good idea to keep a record of how you are getting on. Our simple plan is this: start from your front door and walk briskly, along a safe route, for 10 minutes. Notice where you get to, turn round and walk briskly back. You can devise more 20 minute routes so you have a choice of walks each day.
By walking the same routes, you can check if you are getting to the same point each time you walk for ten minutes. If you walk further in the ten minutes you create a new ‘Personal Best’ (PB). PB’s are events to be celebrated, but they won’t happen every time you go out. Remember, for the walk to be a PB you have to get back to the start in the second ten minutes.
You can set PB’s on all of your routes. If you are able to measure the routes you can make an accurate record of your speed too.
Good Luck. We’d love to hear about your PB’s.
Walking with someone else
We have devised a way of several people walking briskly at the same time as each other. Simply gather together at an agreed start point and set off at the same time along an agreed route.
Each walker walks at his/her own brisk speed for 10 minutes before turning back. The group will spread out along the route as some walkers will, obviously, have walked further than others in the first 10 minutes. If you all maintain your own brisk speed walking back you should close up and finish together, perhaps for coffee. Cappuccinos for us please.
We have used this method with up to thirty walkers with turn times of up to 30 minutes. You have to just concentrate on walking you own brisk speed.
Remember it isn’t a race!
Set aside time for your walking. You’re more likely to fit it into your day.
It’s been suggested that you can do your walking in small blocks rather than doing it in one go. It’s likely that you wont gain as many benefits as you would walking 20 minutes in one session. If you are going to walk briskly you should be breathing deeper than normal and should be aware that your heart is beating faster than normal. You may also find that you feel warmer and maybe even a little sweaty.
These seem a good reason to set aside a special time for your walking. You will only have to time yourself once and it will also be easier to check if you have improved your distance.
Never too late
It’s never too late to start, or too early for that matter.
You can start a walking programme at just about any age. We’ve met a number of elderly people walking with sticks doing the best walking they could manage. Obviously, the sooner you start the more benefits you can gain.
Many people believe that their bodies get weaker as they get older, but that’s not the whole story. Muscles get weaker through lack of use. Never has ‘use it or lose it’ been more true. We’ve seen people go from quite confident walkers to shufflers in a surprisingly short time. Once they have reached that stage it’s difficult to go back. So don’t let it happen. We’ve also worked with walkers in their sixties and older who have achieved speeds and distances they believed impossible.
Almost anyone can do it.
We’ve read about some incredible recoveries that people have made following serious illnesses, such as strokes, heart attacks and the like.
Many of those who recover do so with a new really appreciation of their lives. It does seem a shame that these individuals have to suffer to appreciate what they already have.
In many cases the problems could have been avoided if those people had looked after themselves. Now we are aware that something as simple as a brisk twenty minute walk each day could have helped them to avoid the traumas which they suffered.
Why wait for the disaster to affect you? Why not take time now for the simple exercise which can help to protect you, it’s much easier than recovery would be.