Walking has been recommended by doctors for rehabilitation since the eighteenth century. Long walks were used as regular training by established marathon runners as long ago as the nineteenth century. It is a natural way of exercising, which does not require any special preparation, equipment or clothing (except clothes suitable for the climate). This low-intensity and low-impact exercise produces increased tensile strength of the lower limbs for a relatively low cardiovascular effort. It is a training form that can be prescribed to almost everyone, except people on crutches who cannot bear their weight fully. Even very unfit, elderly or obese patients may benefit from walking slowly and for reasonable distances. It is well documented that ageing of muscles and skeleton in the locomotor system can be altered with low-intensity regular physical activity.
This kind of training can be done in the same way as running, with varying distances and speeds. While Olympic athletes can walk 10,000 metres in less than 40 minutes, most people wouldn't be able to run it in that time. To increase energy consumption at low walking speeds, a rucksack or weight belt may be carried. Walking in forest, parklands or the beautiful countryside is an extremely popular weekend activity for a great many British people: a day out can be a great experience as well as excellent exercise. To help city dwellers and single elderly people who may not dare to walk alone, walking clubs are springing up in most cities. These clubs organise walks in small groups, which also has a
positive social effect. We should not underestimate the effect of daily walking, even in big cities. A modern shopping or outlet centre can provide kilometres of walking. Red 'SALE' signs will enhance the pace of walking for most visitors! The effect of this kind of exercise for general health is substantial - as long as we walk somewhere, it doesn't matter how or where.
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