,Walking is one of the best forms of exercise and is generally easy for most people to do. Even better, it’s totally free, no expensive membership required. Just 30 minutes walking every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, reduce excess body fat, and strengthen bones and muscles, all of which are vital at any age. And walking is not just good for physical health but excellent for mental health too so it’s a win win on all levels!
Much research over the years has proven time and time again that walking in all different environments, whether rural or urban, can improve mental wellness for most people, but especially those who already do suffer with mental health problems. One large report done in the USA in 2018 concluded that walking is associated with improved mental health as well as neurological health including lower incidence of depression, reduced risk of dementia, improved sleep quality as well as lower anxiety levels, the latter been something we could probably all do with right now!
For those of you who live in the countryside or with plenty of greenery around you, or even just the greenery of your garden, this is likely to have an added benefit with studies showing that walking in green spaces is even better for mental health compared to just concrete jungles.
Motivational levels amongst many people can be struggle at the best of times, and this has especially been the case over the last twenty months with coronavirus and lockdowns added to the mix and that’s been a recipe for motivation levels to plummet. Walking is a good way of trying to increase your motivation levels and this will work best if you set yourself realistic goals, set a target and/or set yourself a specific challenge. For example you could set yourself a specific number of steps you want to achieve on your walk and aim for that (if you don’t have a step counter there are many step counter apps you can download on your phone), you could think of a journey you have always wanted to do or a mountain you have always wanted to climb and walk the distance of that route, whether it be up the stairs, round the garden or up the driveway. Make the goal personal to you and you are more likely to see it through to the end.
Walking also has significant benefits for our skeletal and muscular system with walking helping to improve bone strength and also improve the endurance and strength of muscles too, both of which become increasingly important as we age. If you are also one of the many people that suffer with digestive based symptoms, such as IBS and bloating, then find out how walking also has huge benefits for your digestive health.
So dust off your walking boots and head out into nature to reap not only the benefits of physically walking, but all the other health benefits that nature offers just by being in it.
RESOURCES & FURTHER READING:
· The restorative benefits of walking in urban and rural settings in adults with good and poor mental health, 2011. Health and Place
· The mental and physical health outcomes of green exercise, 2005. International Journal of Environmental Health Research
· Psychological Benefits of Walking: Moderation by Company and Outdoor Environment, 2011. Applied Psychology: An International Review