Get up and about for walking month

National Walking Month is in May

Phones and emails are the last method of communication for Benenden Hospital’s lead physio Shinu Varghese.

He celebrates the fact his department do a lot of working, collecting patients from the Hospital reception and helping patients with their needs. You will not see him catching a lift and he always takes a trip to the canteen rather than rely on the convenience of the corridor water cooler for refreshments.

The tennis-loving specialist with nearly 20 years’ experience is an enthusiastic advocate of good stress on the body – that is putting the muscles, bones and joints through the paces they were built for, which he explains is an investment for the future.

Shinu said: “Modern life is all about making everything easier. But a sedentary lifestyle leads to problems. Our bodies were designed to walk, to run. When the musculoskeletal system is active, it leads to all internal organs working optimally.

“I say to my patients not to thank me now but in their 60s, 70s, 80s when they haven’t gained weight, got high blood pressure or wholly avoidable aches and pains. Do something to raise your heart rate, to breathe harder. This is what being alive is all about.”

And with May being National Walking Month, it is a great place to start. If walking is not already part of your daily routine, find just five minutes to step outdoors. So convinced is Shinu of the positive impact on you physically and mentally, he predicts within two months you will be making it a priority.

He said: “People want a quick fix, but start walking gradually – five, 10, 15 then 20 minutes. Your body will respond positively.

“Watching a movie or having a drink might give you an instant high. But with exercise, you will consistently feel good. You will think clearer, sleep better.”

  • Walking just one step uses 200 muscles and these pump oxygen around our body, making us more alert and productive
  • Burn 75 calories by walking 2mph for 30 minutes, 3mph is 99 calories and 4mph is 150 calories
  • Walking just 20 minutes a day can transform fitness levels, improve your health and reduce anxiety and stress

Make some time for walking in your lives and only good things can happen:

Try a walking meeting at work. Swap the air con for fresh air and boost your energy and productivity with your office team.

As the weather perks up, why not plan lunch alfresco instead of aldesko? Invite your friends and colleagues on a picnic. Pack a picnic rug and healthy snackage and then get walking to find the perfect spot. Half of us eat at our desks at least four times a week. Make a new tradition at work.

Skip a stop in the morning and the steps will soon add up. Can’t manage to walk the whole way to work? Jump off the bus earlier or park further away. You’ll be amazed how far you can walk in the time it takes to weave through rush hour traffic.

Take the ‘long cut’. Plan ahead for an extra 20 minutes outdoors and explore parts of your local area you wouldn’t normally see. Google and find points of interest. Walking in parks and tree lined streets reduces negative thoughts.

Find new walks for you and your four-legged friends. Time with your dogs is a proven mood booster as is immersing yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Rambler groups publish footpath maps and detailed information online. The sense of achievement having navigated a route also leaves you on a high. Not got a dog? Borrow one!  

People want a quick fix, but start walking gradually – five, 10, 15 then 20 minutes. Your body will respond positively."

Shinu Varghese, Lead Physiotherapist at Benenden Hospital

Published on 03 May 2017