Physical activity contributes to wellbeing and is essential for good health. It reduces our risk of developing chronic conditions and helps to maintain good our physical and mental health. The Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines for physical activity recommend adults should undertake a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week; brisk walking is a great way for individuals to begin to achieve this. Brisk walking is moving at a speed of around 3 miles per hour, making you breathe harder, your heart beat faster and warming you up quickly. You should still be able to hold a conversation but shouldn’t be able to sing a song. Brisk walking is walking at a pace that is good for your physical and mental health and is faster than a stroll.
People who do not move regularly or lead sedentary lifestyles (doing less than 30 minutes of activity a week) are increasing their risk of living with poor health. Even those who are meeting the recommended levels of physical activity but sit or are inactive for prolonged periods of time are increasing their chances of poor health. This suggests being active is not enough to promote good health but that we also need to ensure that we avoid being inactive throughout the day.
In Wales, 1.3 million people spend 60% of their waking time in work. In recent years, technological advancements have meant the modern workplace is somewhere that now encourages sitting for long periods. Hours spent sitting can cause employees to experience physical and mental health problems, which can lead to time off work, short-term disability, reduced productivity, increased costs, and overall disrupt the working environment.
Evidence suggests that a 20-minute brisk walk makes such a difference to our physical and mental well-being, and being physically active in work time is also proven to improve productivity.
It’s medically proven that there are a number of benefits to taking part in regular physical activity:
It Helps Control Weight
Walking at a brisk pace can help to prevent excess weight gain, or help maintain weight loss.
It Helps Combat Illness and disease
Walking can help to lower the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by up to 35%. It also keeps your heart healthy and also helps to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
It Improves mood
Physical activity reduces anxiety and depression, and helps to prevent mental health problems. It can lower the risk of depression by up to 30%. Physical activity stimulates the brain to release chemicals called endorphins that help you to feel happier and more relaxed.
It boosts energy
Being active delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps the cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
It improves your sleep
Regular physical activity can help promote and deepen sleep.
In the healthcare sector, we are all familiar with the health and wellbeing benefits of not only the physical side of exercise, but also the sense of mindfulness and wellbeing that you feel when socialising with others, tackling stress through exercise, and taking in the scenery and environment around you
With obesity and mental health issues continuing to have an impact upon the health and wellbeing of our own staff as well as the population of Cardiff and Vale, I hope this will encourage many of you to get motivated in joining in, in taking up any of the local walks we will be promoting throughout national walking month in May, signing up with our charity for the Cardiff Half, or just taking the stairs a bit more frequently to keep active in our body and mind.
– Len Richards, Cardiff and Vale UHB Chief Executive