Whether you enjoy a brisk hike at the weekend or only walk when you absolutely have to, for most of us, walking is a part of everyday life, and one that delivers a whole host of benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels.
Walking even helps prevent some diseases and can prolong your life, with evidence from cardiovascular research charity The Heart Foundation showing that walking every day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 35% and Type 2 diabetes by as much as 40%.
That's why National Walking Month is so vital.
Taking place throughout May, National Walking Month was designed to raise awareness of walking's benefits and encourage people to get their steps in more regularly by pledging to walk for at least 20 minutes every day this month.
Here are some other benefits of walking.
Helps burn calories
When you walk you burn calories and when you burn calories, you maintain or lose weight. The further and/or faster you walk, the more calories you burn. Simple!
Relieves joint pain
Walking helps protect your joints by strengthening the muscles that support them, keeping your knees, hips and other areas stronger for longer. It also reduces pains associated with arthritis, while more extensive walking can help prevent it entirely.
Boosts your immune system
Research suggests that walking could reduce your risk of developing a cold or the flu, with a recent study of 1,000 adults showing that those who walked for 30-45 minutes per day had fewer respiratory infections and fewer sick days, as well as milder symptoms if they did become sick.
Boosts your energy
Next time you feel tired, don't reach for the coffee - go for a walk! Walking increases oxygen flow through the body, increasing the levels of the hormones that elevate your energy levels and giving you an effective energy boost.
And walking isn't just good for your physical health, it's a great way to improve your mental health too. Here's why.
Improves your mood
30 minutes of brisk walking three times a week helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression, as well as boosting self-esteem, making you more alert and reducing the symptoms of social withdrawal.
Enables creative thinking
By helping you clear your head, walking may also help you think more creatively, with research showing that trying to think of new ideas when sitting is much more difficult that trying to do so while walking.
With walking being one of the easiest ways to improve your health and fitness, not to mention one of the cheapest hobbies around, there's no excuse not to get out and about and have a go at one of our top Yorkshire walks.
One of Yorkshire's most popular destinations, Malham Cove is a stunning limestone formation that was formed more than 12,000 years ago.
Situated in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the cove is perfect for walkers, with enough breathtaking views of cliffs, wildlife, woodland and waterfalls to keep even the most reluctant walker entertained.
Malham Cove, Malham, Skipton. BD23 4DJ.
People come from far and wide to walk around Ilkley Moor and enjoy its ancient monuments, prehistoric rock carvings and bird-watching opportunities. And, with the peaceful spa town of Ilkley just a short walk away, visitors aren't short of options if they fancy some food and drink to fuel their walk or relax with afterwards.
Ilkley Moor, Ilkley. LS29 9RF.
If it's some wild coastline you're after, look no further. Flamborough Head offers incredible views of rugged white cliffs, lighthouse towers, windswept paths and a multitude of nesting seabirds, with walks of varying difficulties guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away whatever your fitness level.
Flamborough Head, Bridlington. YO15 1AR.
With the cost of living crisis causing all of us undue stress, there's never been a better time to get outside, go for a walk and give both our physical and mental health some TLC.
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