LIVE BETTER: Celebrate National Heart Week by starting your walking program today.
LIVE BETTER: Celebrate National Heart Week by starting your walking program today. Siri Stafford

Active ageing: happy, healthy hearts

WHAT better way is there to celebrate National Heart Week, than to slip out the door on a crisp Autumn day and enjoy a brisk 15-minute walk.

But don't stop there. Try it at least five times a week. You don't have to be vigorous, but you do need to keep moving to keep your heart and mind healthy.

Walking is the perfect way to improve your health. It's low impact and requires no equipment, just comfortable clothing and footwear.

You can turn it into a social activity or enjoy the peace of walking alone.

Overweight, obese or near-weight; everyone can benefit from some gentle walking exercise every day.

If you think about, most of us are already walk every day. But, do we do enough? Usually our bodies will tell us when we need to get off the couch, out of the office chair, leave the car behind and get our legs and arms moving.

Here's some tips to help you get moving, get moving a bit more or perhaps help you to return to walking after a break away from it.

What, when and how -

  • Talk to your GP before you start if you're not sure about your health status.
  • Wear appropriate shoes with good support and non-slippery sole.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes suiting the temperature and protecting against sunburn.
  • Fill up your water bottle and carry it with you.
  • Warm up before every walk by starting with a slow pace.
  • Get moving every day for at least 15 minutes, as a minimum and aim for 30 minutes.
  • Aim for 10,000 steps every day, either in one walk or several walks throughout your day.
  • Get yourself a pedometer so you can track your steps. There are cheap ones around.
  • Make your walk as brisk as your fitness can handle.
  • Sing or talk while you walk to improve your lung health.
  • Walk on grass rather than concrete to help absorb the impact.
  • Do some gentle calf muscle stretches when you finish your walk. Careful not to strain yourself.
  • Make your walks interesting by changing the places you walk, who you walk with, or maybe the time of day you walk.

Don't stop at 15 minutes

Get up and get walking short distances whenever you can -

  • Park the car a little bit further from the shops.
  • Walk to the local shops.
  • Walk to the post office.
  • Walk to where you are going to have lunch, and more.
  • Take the stairs, or at least one or two flights, instead of the lift.
  • Get off the bus or train one stop earlier and walk to work or home.
  • Walk the dog or help your neighbour by walking theirs.

Now that you are really enjoying your walking, think about joining a free walking group. Find out where your closest one is by going online to the Heart Foundation website, walking.heartfoundation.org.au.



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