Woman's Day - Tuesday 3 October, 2006

Walk to work

By Annette Campbell

Walk to work

By Annette Campbell

When it comes to getting healthy, we tend to think of joining gyms, popping vitamins or buying expensive fitness equipment. But there's one thing we tend to overlook … well, two actually. Our feet.

Walking is the easiest and one of the most effective forms of exercise. You can do it anywhere and at any time that suits you and all you need is a decent pair of shoes.

And because the simple act of walking around is so good for your health, it's being promoted by the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA) for the national event, Walk to Work Day.

This year it's on Friday October 6 — and while you'll feel great thanks to the exercise, the environment also benefits if your car stays in the garage that day!

"Each year, Walk to Work Day participants help the environment and improve their health and fitness," says Harold Scruby, chairman of the PCA.

"With our current habits, Australians are predicted to be fatter than Americans by 2020. Making time to walk every day and eating healthy food will help prevent this.

"You've got to get to work somehow, so why not walk — at least part of the way? As they say, you don't have to take exercise seriously, just regularly."

Just in case you need more encouragement, here are some fast facts you may not have known about the most natural exercise in the world:

  • According to Professor Adrian Bauman, creator of GutBusters and head of the University of Sydney's Epidemiology Unit, if an additional 10 percent of Australians walked regularly, even as little as to and from the bus stop each day, it would significantly increase our productivity and overall wellbeing. It would save more than a thousand lives every year from heart disease alone.

  • The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity at moderate intensity level on most, preferably all, days of the week — and this time can be accumulated throughout the day. For example, a walk to the bus stop in the morning for 10 minutes, followed by a 10 minute walk around the block at lunchtime, then another 10 minute walk in the afternoon easily make up the 30 minutes.

  • According to beyondblue, research shows that regular physical activity leads to a 17-28 percent reduced risk of developing depression. Regular aerobic and strength exercises can also lead to a 50-percent reduction in the symptoms of depression and anxiety, especially for women and older people. Regular walking can lift your mood, aid uninterrupted sleep, increase energy, decrease fatigue and lead to an improved sense of wellbeing.

    The ninth national Walk to Work Day is on Friday, October 6. Apart from participants being encouraged to enter, this year companies, businesses, councils and government agencies are also being urged to host Walk to Work Day Healthy Breakfasts. To find out how to organise your own Walk to Work Day Healthy Breakfast, contact Frances Dwyer/Allison Lee on (02) 9519 5411 or visit www.walk.com.au
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