Wellness Wednesday: Walking For Physical and Mental Health

University of Kent Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon

Organised Walk at the University on Time to Talk Day 03/02/22

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you will know that I love walking. It is my favourite form of exercise. I have become more of an advocate for it as an easily accessible exercise over the pandemic, where restrictions have frequently interfered with our access to other ways to stay healthy.

A recent study has been published which gives me the opportunity to revisit the health benefits of walking. The study was published by the Journal of American Geriatrics Society last week and you can access the full findings below. You may find the Country Living article linked below an easier read; it reports on the research’s findings. Basically, the research indicates that walking as an exercise appears to have a protective effect against heart failure for post-menopausal women. Apologies to all who are younger and not female, but the research is an all-round indicator of the how good this simple exercise can be for everyone. The research involved a large cohort of 25000 people and the study followed them for 17 years. Its findings were that participants who walked at a pace faster than 3 miles per hour had a 34% less likely chance of developing heart failure as they aged; those who walked at an average pace were still 27% less likely of developing heart failure and this was maintained not matter what their weight or alcohol consumption.

To remind you, these are some of other research estimated health benefits of walking regularly:

  • One step uses a third of your body’s muscles
  • The recommended 10000 steps a day represents about 8k
  • Walking lowers blood pressure
  • It reduces your chance of developing diabetes
  • It lowers the bad cholesterol in the blood
  • Walking increases overall fitness
  • As it is weight bearing exercise, it strengthens the bones
  • It helps improve mood and lowers stress
  • It helps people lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
  • Walking is a natural healer – research has shown that some disease can be cured simply by walking
  • It improves how the immune system works
  • It helps move toxins in the body into the lymphatic system to be expelled
  • It is estimated that for every minute a person walks, they prolong their life by 1.5-2 minutes

Walking can be a great time to clear your head of things that are worrying you, working through the issues or emotions. It can also be a good way to start a conversation with someone whom you have concerns about. Or a way to start a conversation about your own mental health problems when you could do with some help or advice and are struggling to reach out. A conversation while walking means you’re not looking your companion in the face which makes things less intense. Somehow it feels so much less difficult, perhaps even less frightening, to say, ‘Hey, let’s meet up and go for a walk; we haven’t caught up for ages’, than ‘Hey, it’s clear I am/you are really struggling with mental health issues, let’s sit down and talk about it’.

This links to the theme for Time to Talk Day next week, Thursday, 03 February: ‘However you do it, start a conversation about mental health’ In fact, a walk is being organised at the University on this day to mark how important it is to be open to conversations about mental health issues. It’s happening at 1 pm on 03 February, meeting outside Reception at Darwin side of the Registry. The aim is for a 30 minute walk so it shouldn’t take up too much time out of your day. It can benefit your physical and mental health. Keep an eye on University comms over the coming week for more information.


‘The association of walking pace and incident heart failure and subtypes among postmenopausal women’ by Moafi-Madani Miremad et al on the Journal of the American Geriatric Society

‘Brisk walking can cut women’s heart failure risk by a third’ by Charlotte Daly on countryliving.com/uk

Everything you need to know about walking on www.walkingforhealth.org.uk

‘The health benefits of walking’ by Karen O’Hara on bupa.co.uk

‘Walking for Health’ on the NHS website

‘Amazing Health Benefits of Walking’ by Practical Christianity on YouTube

‘Top 5 Health Benefits of Walking’ by Wyre Forest TV on YouTube

‘Start a Conversation About Mental Health’ on Time to Talk Day website

‘Time to Talk Day’: article on University T&OD website

‘Mental Benefits of Walking’ by Dan Brennan on webmd.com

‘Walking in nature: the positive effects on your mental health’ by Fatmata Kamara on bupa.co.uk

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