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Issue 89, June 2005

Tips for Carers

Walking for Good Health

Walking can improve health and fitness and is suitable for most people. Physical activity does not have to be vigorous or done for long periods in order to improve your health. Walking can help you lose body fat and maintain a healthy weight, improve your fitness, and reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers.

Walking is low impact, requires minimal equipment, can be done at any time of day and can be performed at your own pace. You can get out and walk without worrying about some of the risks associated with other more vigorous forms of exercise.

The benefits of walking

You carry your own body weight when you walk. This is called ‘weight bearing’ exercise.

Some of the benefits include:
  • Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes
  • Stronger bones and improved balance
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced body fat
Walk for 30 minutes a day

To get the health benefits, walk for at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can most days of the week. ‘Brisk’ means that you can still talk but not sing, and you may be puffing slightly. Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risk but, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Build physical activity into your life

If it’s too difficult to walk for 30 minutes at one time, do regular small bouts (10 minutes) three times per day.
  • Try taking the stairs instead of the lift (for at least part of the way)
  • Get off public transport one stop earlier and walk to work or home
  • Do housework like vacuuming
  • Walk (don’t drive) to the local shops
  • Walk the dog (or your neighbour’s dog)
Making walking a pleasure

To make regular walking a pleasurable form of physical activity:
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing
  • Protect yourself from the sun with clothes, sunglasses, a hat and sun block
  • Take an umbrella to avoid getting wet if it rains
  • Drink plenty of fluids before and after your walk. If you are taking a long walk, take a drink with you
  • Vary your walking routes so you can enjoy the change in scenery
  • Walk with a friend and combine exercise with socialising
  • Join a local walking club
  • If you have a medical condition or any health concerns check with your doctor before you start any type of exercise program
Where to get help
  • Citizen’s Advice Bureau
  • Your local council (for information about walking groups, walking tracks and parks)

Adapted from The Better Health Channel (page produced in consultation with VicFit)
Contact – AHDA (Vic) Victorian Newsletter No26 March 2005

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