Not so many years ago, the UK was way behind the USA, Australia and the rest of Europe in terms of obesity statistics. Many Brits led an active lifestyle, a relatively small number of families owned cars and because of rationing, a hangover from World War II, high calorie foods were not so abundant. Modern supermarkets had yet to take hold on the high street and, unlike America, fast food was limited to the occasional portion of fish and chips!
However, fast forward to the early 21st century and things are worse – much worse. The UK is giving the rest of the world a run for its money in the obesity stakes and a very large percentage of the UK population is overweight, unfit and unhealthy.
Most families have two cars in their garages, every town has a number of supermarkets that provide a whole slew of high calorie junk food and where kids used to walk to school and play outside in their free time, very few walk anywhere and playtime is more likely to involve spending time on a games consol rather than kicking a football around.
UK adults are no different. Many adults used to make their living doing manual labour and walked for transport whereas now walking is something very few UK adults do enough of. It is this lack of walking that is arguably the easiest thing to address.
Walking is simple, safe, costs nothing, can be done virtually anywhere and requires no special training or equipment. It can be injected into your day seamlessly and barely counts as exercise but walking could very well be the most important activity you currently do not do enough of.
The easiest way to make sure you are walking enough is to invest in a pedometer. Cheap, light, easy to use, reliable and accurate, a pedometer tracks how many walking steps you take per day so you can see how much (or how little) walking you actually do.
Experts agree that you should try and clock up around 10,000 steps per day which might sound like a lot but actually only around five miles and equates to a little over an hour of walking per day. These steps don’t need to be consecutive and can be spread throughout your day however you see fit. For example, you could walk a mile in the morning, a mile at lunch time and a mile in the evening and make up the balance by simply walking to see colleagues rather than email or phone them or taking the stairs rather than the lift at work. Other opportunities for walking include…
- Walking your dog
- Walking around the supermarket
- Parking further away from work
- Walking to school with your kids
- Have walking meetings at work
- Have walking dates with your spouse or friends
- Walk to see a friend of neighbour instead of calling or driving
There are dozens of ways you can inject more walking into your daily routine – you simply have to be creative. Track your steps using a pedometer to take the guess work out of monitoring your progress and don’t think you have to start out hitting 10,000 steps on your very first day. Start off with 2,000 steps (around a mile) and gradually build up from there. Using your pedometer you will have no problem increasing your daily number of steps from 2,000 to 10,000 over a few weeks or even months.
If more people in the UK used a pedometer, they would quickly realise just how little walking they actually do. 10,000 steps are all that prevents you from being fit and healthy so grab your pedometer and make the UK a fitter, healthier place to be.