The benefits of walking outdoors

The Australian government recommends 150 minutes of physical activity per week and the good news is walking can contribute towards this goal.

Walking can contribute to increased aerobic fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and improve muscle power and endurance. Along with aiding in reducing the risk of developing heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not only this, but it is also free and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.

You don’t need to do a CrossFit class or run a marathon to get the physical and mental health benefits of exercise. Walking is low impact, can be done any time of the day and at your own pace. You can get the added benefits of fresh air and sunshine while getting your exercise in for the day. When your extra strapped for time, you can even multi-task on your walk. Got a phone call to make? A lecture or audio book to listen to? Need to walk the dog? Due for a visit to the shops? All of these things can be incorporated into your walk.

Walking outside rather than exercising inside a gym, also offers the benefit of varying terrains and inclines. Walking on a treadmill you may not only find boring, but also tends to have you walking on the same flat terrain for the whole walk. We know getting the heart rate up with stairs and hills is super beneficial for heart health, and varying terrains can help make ankles and knees more resilient for future activities.

Walking outdoors has benefits beyond just the physical. A nice, slow walk may also be good for your mental health. Particularly in times of lockdown, when you are allowed out for exercise, the change of scenery can be so good for the mind and getting moving can help stretch out any sore spots from time spent slumped on the couch or at the desk. The walking aside, the fresh air and natural light alone, can offer mental health benefits. Where possible, walking with a friends can also be great for the mind and offers a healthy alternative to catching up over food or drinks.

Some things to be mindful of when heading out for a walk, however, include walking in a safe, well-lit area and dressing appropriately for the conditions- i.e., comfortable walking shoes and sun safe clothing protection (or even brighter colours if walking on busy roads in the early morning or evening). Aim to vary your route to keep things interesting and to challenge the body. If you are struggling to find the motivation to get out for a walk, consider switching on a podcast or listening to some music while walking to make things more enjoyable!

References
https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians

About the author

Cheyenne Holman

Cheyenne Holman

Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)
Accredited Sports Dietitian
Certified Personal Trainer
Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher