Walking is one of the most popular ways of getting active, with 66 per cent of the Irish population doing recreational walking on a weekly basis. This summer, it is set to get even more popular when the Castlebar International Four Days’ Walks Festival comes to the area. The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF ) promotes walking for heart health through its network of Slí na Sláinte (Path to Health ) walking routes which can be found in nearly 200 locations across the country. To celebrate the Castlebar International Four Days’ Walks Festival, the national charity fighting heart disease and stroke is sharing walking tips with local people to help them get the most out of being active this summer.
Walking tips from the IHF
Adults need a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity five days a week for a healthy heart. If you are not used to physical activity, start slowly. The 30 minutes can be broken into three 10 minute sessions during the day.
Walk at a slow pace for the first few minutes of your walk to warm up. To cool down, walk more slowly towards the end of your walk.
Relax your arms and allow them to swing freely by your side. Maintain a good posture by keeping your back straight and your stomach pulled in.
Choose shoes with a good cushioning on the heel and a good outer sole, which fit properly. Choose well ventilated shoes and socks to prevent sweating.
Dress for the weather. Wear loose fitting, light layers, and remember a hat and sunscreen when it is sunny.
Drink plenty of fluid during the day to make sure you are properly hydrated when you start your walk. During exercise, aim to drink 150 to 200ml every 15 to 20 minutes, especially on long walks, or in warm/humid weather conditions.
Be safe and be seen. It is strongly recommended you wear a hi-vis vest when walking on or near busy roads.
Edel Byrne, Slí na Sláinte walking co-ordinator with the IHF, says: “Being active is hugely important for heart health, reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, over 20 per cent of coronary heart disease and 10 per cent of strokes are caused by not being active enough. Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as brisk walking, five days a week for their heart health. If you’re looking to lose weight, aim for 60 to 75 minutes of walking at a moderate pace each day combined with a healthy diet. The summer is a great time to start moving and the Castlebar International Four Days’ Walks Festival is a great opportunity for local people to get started.”
For more information on the nearest Slí na Sláinte route in your area, visit www.irishheart.ie/sli