The pandemic is having an impact on all of us. Encouraging people to get walking to improve their wellbeing is an important message.
The simple act of going for a walk in green space can have a dramatic effect on our wellbeing and its great exercise. Regular walking improves mood, sleep quality, reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue and boosts immunity.
Physical activity, fresh air and nature can play a huge part in keeping our resilience high by improving our mental and physical wellbeing - especially in challenging times.
There is considerable evidence that physical activity, including walking, can buoy our moods and lead to greater happiness and reduced risks for anxiety, depression and other mental illness.
Regular walking improves mood, sleep quality, reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue and boosts immunity.
It’s a simple activity that a number of us do daily, and although some of the benefits of walking are obvious, they’re rarely discussed.
Here we look at some of the strongest benefits.
The most common benefits of walking are the physical benefits. The activity can strengthen your bones and muscles and has also been associated in previous studies with lower risk of back pain, breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The findings are from a study of almost 140,000 people participating in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort.
Walking reduces stress levels by releasing endorphins into your system. The effects of being outdoors can also help to improve your overall mood.
5 ways that walking can help your emotional wellbeing
If you’re having an especially stressful day, going for a walk outdoors is a great way to calm and clear your mind. When the mind has less to focus on (cars, people, etc.) there is more head space available for reflection and meditation. Studies have shown that being outdoors in general reduces stress, and walking as with any exercise releases stress-reducing endorphins.
A Sanford study found that walking, even on a treadmill indoors, made individuals twice as likely to produce creative responses compared to people who were sitting.
A UGA study found that when individuals with sedentary lifestyles engaged in just 20-minutes of low or moderate intensity exercises, such as walking, their energy increased by 20 percent and fatigue levels dropped by 65 percent, when compared to individuals who did not exercise at all.
Regular walking can strengthen your heart and bones, reduce anxiety and fatigue, keep your body in shape, increase energy and endorphins, and therefore leave you feeling pretty good about yourself.
Walking boosts the body’s release of sleep hormones like melatonin. Thirty minutes of walking a day can help prime your brain for better sleep. Whilst other physical activities have their benefits, several experts have concluded that when it comes to more restful sleep, walking is superior to many other forms of physical activity such as basketball or tennis.
New Studies on Walking
A new study reported in the journal Emotion, Consciously watching for small wonders in the world around you during an otherwise ordinary walk could amplify the mental health benefits of the stroll, according to an interesting new psychological study of what the study’s authors call “awe walks”.
Feeling a sense of awe also seems to up our overall feelings of gladness and improve health. A somewhat vague emotion, awe generally is defined as the sense that you are in the presence of something larger and more consequential than yourself and that this something is mysterious and indefinable.
In past studies, people who reported feeling awe also tended to have less emotional stress and lower levels of substances related to body-wide inflammation.
Big smile, small self: Awe walks promote pro-social positive emotions.
Explore and notice your surroundings.