1. Walking is great for your body. Let's start with the basics: regular walking has a positive impact on your heart health by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Walking also boosts your bone density and has shown to improve overall quality of life.
2. You'll stick with it. Now that we know some of the key health benefits of walking, you may be wondering: Why should I join a club? The answer is simple: to be able to stick to a great, new fitness routine. Statistics show that 70 per cent of people who start an exercise program quit within the first six months. Why? Mostly because they just aren’t motivated.
A walking club can provide that little bit of positive peer pressure that will get you outside and on your feet. "People are more motivated and likely to show up and participate if they are part of a group activity," says Michele Crowley, physical activity promoter with the Haldimand-Norfolk County Health Unit in Ontario.
3. You'll lose weight. Walking for 30 minutes (the minimum for many walking clubs) burns about 125 calories. If this doesn't sound like much, just think if you walk five days a week for a whole year, you'll burn 32,500 calories and more than 5 kg of fat. Tip: The best fat-burning effects of walking kick in about 30 to 40 minutes after the start of a walk, so if you walk for more than 30 minutes at a stretch, you'll lose more weight.
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4. Clubs are fun. "A walking club has a social atmosphere," Crowley says. "It feels more like free time or special time to spend with people that you enjoy than exercising."
You can join a walking club with neighbours and friends, or sign up on your own and meet new liked-minded people, adds Linda Godin, physical activity specialist with the City of Hamilton's Healthy Living Division. Godin also points out that you can't have a good chat while you're in the thick of an aerobics class, but you certainly can in a walking club.
5. It'll boost your mood. New research suggests that group exercise releases endorphins – your happy hormone – which can help transform something that seems like a chore (exercise) into a real pleasure. What’s more, other experts say that walking in good company and in pleasant surroundings helps you sleep better and reduces your risk of depression and anxiety.
6. Clubs are safe. You can walk in new parts of your community and at night without worrying about your personal safety.
7. Discover new parts of your 'hood. Many walking clubs explore different routes and terrain, so while you're getting fit you're also getting more familiar with places in your own community.
Do you want to join a walking club?
Check out community website to see if you can find an existing walking club. If you can't find one in your home town, take the initiative to start one. It's as easy as talking to friends and neighbours or posting flyers to find community members who are interested in joining you on your fitness endeavours.
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