The coronavirus pandemic changed many habits and good practices related to physical activity. On July 9, on the day of taking a different route to work, experts encourage more physical activity, including walking. This basic form of exercise has a positive effect on health and wellbeing.
– In April this year only 26% of Poles declared that they went for a walk during the last month. This month, nearly half of the Polish population spent more than 5 hours a day in a sitting position. One in three people admitted that they sat at least 7 hours every day – says Dr. Adam Waszkowski, Analysis Department Director at Benefit Systems.
According to a study published in the “Annals of Internal Medicine” at the end of June, within 10 days of WHO announcing the worldwide pandemic, there was a 5.5% fall in the average number of steps taken (287 steps). Within a month this number dropped by 27.3% (1432 steps). The data presented at Statista.com indicates that in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe the most rapid decline in the number of steps took place between 16 and 22 March 2020, when the state of the epidemic was introduced in Poland (March 20) – the daily number of steps taken by Poles in these days decreased by 18%, compared to the average before the pandemic. Interestingly, Italy, which announced the lockdown on March 9, 2020, showed a maximum decline of 48.7%, while Sweden only 6.9%. (“Annals of Internal Medicine”).
A walk for health
– It should be remembered that in a situation of insufficient movement, even the smallest dose of physical activity, including walking, has a positive effect on our health. Already during a leisurely walk, the heart works faster than at rest, we get warmer, our breath gently accelerates, which translates into better oxygenation and blood supply to the body. Nutrients and oxygen reach all tissues better, including the brain, which even after 10 minutes of walking becomes more active and better prepared for intellectual effort – says Ernest Kuchar, Ph.D., specialist in sports medicine, Head of the Paediatrics Clinic with the Observation Ward at the Medical University of Warsaw. – Walking is therefore a great way to warm up before your workday. It is worth strengthening this habit every day by getting off one or two stops earlier or by choosing stairs instead of the elevator.
Walking minimises stress
According to the ADP report, Polish residents are one of the most stressed employees in Europe – over 25% of Poles feel stress at work every day, and 28% – several times a week. Exercise can help, because people who are physically active a minimum of 150 minutes a week, the risk of depression drops by 22%. In other words, 20 minutes of daily, intensive walking can bring positive effects in this respect.
A walk will complete workouts
Personal trainers say that walking is a great complement to the training plans implemented in sports and recreation facilities. – A brisk walk can be a good warm-up before the actual workout. It is also a good activity that will allow us to calm down after intense physical effort. Walking is one of the most natural forms of movement for man, which brings many benefits – says Piotr Czyżewski, a trainer participating in the Health Full Time project.