Top tips for a healthy hike - physiotherapists support Walk to Work Day

Physiotherapists are supporting Walk to Work Day as a great opportunity to kick-start a more active lifestyle and help prevent health problems

Physiotherapists are supporting Walk to Work Day (Thursday 24 April) as a great opportunity to kick-start a more active lifestyle and help prevent health problems, such as obesity, heart disease and lower back pain.

Recent research has found that Britons spend over 36 years sitting down during their lifetime, and only 1 year 22 days exercising. Walking to work is a great way to increase the levels of activity you do and is easy to fit into your daily routine, without having to make time to exercise or pay any membership fees.

Chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo says, “Physios would like to see Walk to Work Day as the day that many people decide to make a concerted change to their exercise habits – don’t just walk to work for the day, walk to work for life! With spring approaching and the weather improving, it’s the perfect time to embark on a new healthy, active routine.”

Physiotherapy’s five top tips for walking to work:

1. Kit This is vital if you’re going to have a healthy walk to work and avoid any damage to your posture through unsuitable shoes or bags. Wear comfortable shoes and socks – if you wear high heels, walk in trainers and change at work. Carry a sturdy rucksack over both shoulders to spread the weight evenly over your body, making sure the straps are pulled short enough for the bag to fit snugly against your back.

2. Posture Posture isn’t just about standing or sitting up straight, it’s also important when you’re moving. When walking, look straight ahead and don’t slump your shoulders. Pull your tummy muscles in as far as you can and then release them by 50 per cent. Hold them at this halfway point while you are walking to keep your spine well supported. Release them if you start to feel any discomfort and start again when this passes.

3. Stride If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking it’s important not to get into bad habits. The correct stride for healthy walking is a heel to toe gait. As your foot hits the ground it should land on the heel and follow through to the toe. This may sound obvious, but you might be surprised by how many people do it the other way round.

4. Attitude After a while, walking to work should become a habit for you, rather than a novelty. This means walking to work rain or shine. You may need to change your routine slightly, such as setting your alarm earlier if walking adds time to your journey. Get yourself a waterproof jacket and an umbrella for those wet days, and tell yourself that with every step you’re doing your mind and body some good by being more active. Try taking different routes to work so that your walk doesn’t become tedious.

5. Progression Don’t push yourself too early and get discouraged. Start by just walking to work as the awareness day suggests. Or walk half the distance and catch public transport the rest of the way, doing the same on your way home. Alternatively, park further away from work than usual and then walk in. Once you’re used to it, you can progress – e.g. walk the whole way to and from work, or try beating your personal best time.

Notes to editors

1. Sammy Margo is available for interview. For more information, please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 6628/6616/6163. Out of hours call Becky Darke on 07900 160349. 2. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK's 49,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. For previous releases visit www.csp.org.uk

3. Referrals to physiotherapy can be gained through your GP. Alternatively, find a private physiotherapist near you at www.physio2u.org.uk

4. Walk to Work Day is a London-based event. Physiotherapists and The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy encourage similar schemes to be introduced UK-wide so as many people as possible have the support and motivation they need. The tips included in this press release are relevant to anyone considering walking to work.

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