The benefits of walking

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to staying fit and healthy, but walking is a powerful tool we often overlook! Find out why it’s so worthwhile.

Often, a stumbling block to getting or staying fit, is managing to find the time and energy that this commitment needs. We have a simple, low-fuss solution for you – just keep walking! Diane Teles, a physiotherapist and strength conditioning coach based in Cape Town, explains why walking is such a worthwhile and effective form of exercise, and how to fit more of it in:

  • It’s what we’re made to do

What us modern day humans consider to be exercise, was part of normal daily activity for our ancestors, reveals Diane. Which explains why we actually NEED natural movement throughout the day to help our joints and bodily systems to function properly.

“Banish the idea of sitting for hours at a desk job and then walking for 30 minutes as exercise”, says Diane. “Although this is better than not walking at all, sustained periods of immobility spotted with infrequent bursts of intense exercise once or twice a week, can actually set you up for injury rather than success at improving your fitness”. The answer, according to Diane, is to make extra walking part of your daily routine.

  • It goes straight to the heart

Movement makes your heart work a little harder to keep your limbs supplied with blood and oxygen, and the more often you make the heart work, the stronger and more efficient it becomes. A stronger heart means better blood sugar control, less chance of high blood pressure and less risk of heart disease. A brisk walk, Diane assures us, is enough to get your heart pumping but, she says, you can up its rate by quickening your pace, walking on elevated terrain or climbing stairs.

  • It’s easy on your body

Whether you’ve been sedentary for a while, are recovering from an injury or are carrying excess weight, Diane prescribes walking, and particularly pool walking, as a good way to exercise without hard impact on lower limb joints. But water-walking is as useful to the fit and strong, she adds, and can provide great resistance training if you increase your speed or add resistance gear like floats, a buoyancy belt or hand paddles.

  • It fills your cup of happiness

An energetic walk is enough to cause the release of endorphins, Diane confirms, those wonderful hormones responsible for lifting mood, changing negative thought patterns and feeling well. “Indirectly, walking can help to improve self-image and self-confidence because you’re engaging in an activity that is health-promoting, feels good and builds a stronger, fitter version of you”.

The best thing about this hidden fitness tool, is that you can walk pretty much anywhere, wearing what you’re wearing, in between your planned appointments… and it doesn’t take too much willpower to get started!


Choosing the right medical aid is no joke, but we’ll leave you smiling.