Walking has many health and wellbeing benefits, some of which may be surprising. Why surprising? Well, many of us think that to get healthy we need to slug it out down the gym, running on a treadmill or doing circuit training to see results. And while this is one way to improve fitness, there is a much simpler way.
One of the best ways to get healthy is by walking on a daily basis. This simple activity is something that everyone can enjoy – it’s as easy as placing one foot in front of the other. What makes walking so beneficial is that it’s something we can do every day, without putting pressure on ourselves.
Walking is a great opportunity to not only improve your fitness and general health, it also has mental benefits and even social benefits. Going for a long walk in the countryside with your friends or family is one of the best ways to feel connected to nature and each other. By getting plenty of fresh air on a daily basis, we become more observant of our environment and what’s happening around us. By dressing appropriately for the weather and season, we can be prepared to go out and enjoy nature for what it is. There are numerous mental health benefits that we can receive from going for a walk…
- Relieves Depression. Studies show that taking part in daily exercise can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression within the clinically depressed. In certain cases exercise is just as effective as taking antidepressant pills for treating depression.
2. Being Present. When we are walking and being in the present moment, we are avoiding worry and focusing our thoughts within that space. Walking can therefore be seen as a kind of meditation.
3. Healthy Weight Management. When we walk on a daily basis we are helping to improve our cardiovascular health and absorption of Vitamin D. Walking can easily shed the pounds and you don’t have to walk excessively. On average, walking for one mile burns 100 calories, so to lose weight the average person needs to walk 2000 steps in an average mile. Health experts recommend we should walk 10,000 steps a day if we want to lose 1 pound per week. This isn’t as difficult as it seems and is possible when we look at ways of including more walking into our daily routine. We might walk the children to school, take a brisk walk down the local park at lunch time or walk the dog for an hour or two. Getting into a regular walking routine can help with weight management in the long term.
4. Reduces Stress. Exercising on a daily basis with a regular walking routine can increase concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s stress response. This means walking is excellent exercise for dealing with mental tension and finding relief for both physical and mental stress.
5. Boosts Brain Power. Cardiovascular exercise can help with creating new brain cells and also improving overall brain performance. Studies also suggest that being involved in a tough workout can increase levels of a brain-derived protein (BDNF) within the body and how this can help with decision making, along with the general thinking and learning process.
6. Increases Self-Confidence. Improving your general fitness level can boost your self-esteem and improve positive self-image in the long-term. Regardless of anyone’s gender, size or weight, exercise is one of the best activities to manage weight, improve self-image while elevating a person’s perception of their attractiveness.
7. Helps with Controlling Addiction. The brain can release dopamine the “reward chemical” in response to any kind of pleasure. Many people become dependent on dopamine which is often produced through drugs, alcohol, food and sex. Short exercise sessions can help people to de-prioritise their cravings (in the short term). Alcohol abuse can disrupt the body’s processes and this includes the circadian rhythms. The result of this is that alcoholics find they can’t fall asleep without drinking. Exercise can help to reboot the body clock and this also makes falling asleep easier too.
For all of these reasons, walking is a great idea if you want to improve your general health and wellbeing. But some of the benefits to your psychological and mental wellbeing can also be highly profound. The important part in all of this is to understand that it is consistency that brings the best results for good health and wellbeing. The beauty is that walking is one of the best ways to be consistent with exercise on a daily basis as it requires no equipment or change of clothes unlike some activities. It is also one of the most natural movements known to man. All you have to do is to place one foot in front of the other…