WHY A DAILY WALK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
When the simple act of walking becomes a part of your daily routine, it can completely transform your health. Throughout time, walking has been lauded as an activity that greatly improves both mental clarity and physical health. Famous thinkers like Beethoven, Dickens and Darwin included walking in their daily routines without compromise. Hippocrates said, “Walking is a man’s best medicine,” and modern research agrees.
Walking has both preventative and corrective benefits and improves the health of the person as a whole, influencing physical, cognitive and emotional well being. In addition to promoting general well-being, walking has been shown to reduce the risk of serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia all while improving concentration, energy and mood.
Walking doesn’t require an expensive gym membership, fitness tracker or fancy gear, making it more accessible than many other forms of exercise. Often, walking is an activity that can be easily built into our daily routine, making it convenient to enjoy its numerous benefits. The rewards of a daily constitutional are felt immediately and last a lifetime.
The physical and mental benefits of walking
Taking a 15-20 minute walk first thing in the morning triggers the release of feel-good endorphins, helping you to start the day energized and with a positive mindset. Getting outside in the morning increases your awareness and connects you with the new day. Walking helps to build a greater sense of community and connection, introducing neighbors and inspiring us to be more invested in where we live. We begin to notice things we may not have before, a beautiful tree at a nearby park, a new restaurant you want to try, the peaceful sounds of the birds singing.
Stimulating the senses awakens the shen, our mind and joie de vivre, making us alert and engaged with life. A powerful antidote to stress, walking can be a practice in mindfulness and a meditation in itself. Regular morning walks have been correlated with higher levels of self-esteem and positive feeling towards oneself throughout the day. When we make a habit of taking walks, the positive shifts can set in quickly. You’ll notice a more optimistic and energized approach to life start to replace feelings of negativity, irritability and fatigue. With routine walks you’ll feel the brain fog begin to dissolve and a new sense of focus and clarity emerge.
Studies have shown that walking can improve bone health, cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, blood pressure, circulation, mood, weight management, sleep, energy and memory. When you go for a brisk walk, the body is supplied with oxygenated blood that supports the detoxification of waste products. By stimulating the metabolism, walking can also improve digestion and bowel regularity. Our skin also benefits from this improved circulation, helping us look and feel our best. Regular walks can do wonders to reduce the severity of both the physical and emotional symptoms associated with PMS.
Ready to walk your way to more vibrant health? Here is a plan to get you started:
- Start today and start now. Grab your shoes and walk around the block. Starting is the hardest part of any new endeavor but once your body gets going, it will only want more!
- Allow your body time to warm up and cool down. Enjoy some light stretching before, after or even during your walk.
- Always wear sunscreen.
- Notice the sights and sounds around you and stay present with where you are and what you are doing. Allow your mind to relax and try not to look at your phone.
- Make sure your route is safe and that you stay aware at busy intersections, when walking at night and/or on cracked sidewalks. Only walk where you feel safe.
- Be consistent. Even if you’re just walking around the block, try to walk every day for one week and notice how you feel. Track your progress and make note of any shifts you experience mentally or physically.
- Try to find ways to incorporate walks into your schedule. Walk to the store instead of driving, park a few blocks away from your destination or arrive 10 minutes early to fit in a short walk. At work, take a short break every hour and walk around the office.
- If the weather is bad try a museum, indoor shopping mall or make your own course at your office building or school.
- Make it fun. Listen to your favorite music or a new podcast. Take this time to learn, listen to and audiobook or a new album from an artist you love.
- Join a walking or hiking club. Most cities have clubs that explore new trails and other cool locations. You can also make a weekly date to walk with a friend.
Stay in touch and let us know how you feel! We’d love to hear about your experience with walking or any tips you can share for incorporating walks into your daily routine.