Walking: the ideal exerciseForget fancy diets and trips to the gym. A brisk one-hour walk will get rid of nearly 500 calories and help keep your weight down.

Walking: the ideal exercise

That’s the message from a specially commissioned study released today by the Ramblers’ Association. The research found that a 60-minute walk, typically spanning 4.4 miles (7km) would burn off the equivalent energy of roughly one Big Mac or 2½ pints of beer.

And the good news is that there was no apparent increase in hunger pangs after walking, so the subjects did not eat more.

The results of the study were released to coincide with Get Walking Day, led by the RA’s new president, TV presenter Floella Benjamin. Ms Benjamin, a keen walker and marathon runner, said: “Walking is a great tonic; it keeps me fit in mind and body and really puts me in a positive mood. The more you do, the better you'll feel, even walking for half an hour five times a week makes a real difference.”

The main findings of the report, snappily titled: The effects of a one-hour brisk walk on appetite and energy intake, were that walking for an hour uses about 480 kcal on average, and that subjects in the study did not increase their food intake in the hours following the walking.

The RA said this demonstrates the health benefits of walking. Ramblers Scotland’s promoting walking officer Kathryn Wortley said: “The recommended 30 minutes of walking per day can even be built up in bouts of 10 or 15 minutes throughout the day, so even on the busiest of days, everyone can enjoy the health benefits of walking”.

Walking also relieves stress, aids restful sleep, strengthens muscles and joints, aids better breathing, improves bone density and promotes better balance and posture, the association said. It also points out that the activity is free and accessible to everyone – the perfect form of exercise.

The RA has produced a downloadable leaflet to coincide with Get Walking Day.