Yesterday was my birthday, and I celebrated, among other things, with a long walk out in nature. The picture above shows one of the beautiful paths that was leading my way into good health. I probably walked almost two hours, the longest walk I’ve had in a while, and it had immediate effects, such as calming my thoughts, easing stress and helping me sleep. I don’t recommend long, hard exercise, merely because of the amount of stress that occurs in the body. Walking, however, seems to provide stress relieving benefits without the excessive oxidative damage associated with long distance running or other long, hard exercises.
A Few Health Facts About Walking
- Walking Improves Your Mood – Study after study conclude that walking, and any other exercise, for that matter, improves mood. Exercise is the most under utilized antidepressant, and many people are missing out on its benefits. Moving the body vigorously helps to release endorphins, or “feel good” hormones, which act upon the brain to help improve mood. Because of this, exercise can also be overused by some, which can lead to excessive oxidative damage in the body. Balance is key!
- Walking Lowers Blood Pressure – Walking is a great way to lose stress, which is incredibly helpful in reducing blood pressure. Being out in nature and with a friend is also very helpful at relieving stress, thus helping to lower blood pressure. Many people are able to stop using blood pressure medications by managing it with diet and exercise alone (speak to your doctor about this before abstaining from any current medications).
- Walking Stabilizes Blood Sugar – Exercise, including brisk walking, helps in improving insulin receptors on the cells in the human body, helping to easily take in blood glucose after eating. This is good for type II diabetics, who have weak insulin receptors and often have high blood sugar levels that must be controlled with insulin injections. Reducing stress also helps in strengthening insulin receptors. Along with diet, exercise is a powerful way to help reduce blood sugar levels and insulin.
- Walking Helps in Weight Loss – When we cannot utilize blood sugar properly (i.e., we cannot take in blood sugar due to weak insulin receptors), insulin may store this glucose as fat. Walking, again, helps to strengthen insulin receptors and improve the regulation and uptake of blood sugar into the cells to use as energy. Walking also boosts the metabolic rate, which burns calories, especially calories from fat.
- Walking Improves Memory – Some studies have shown that purely walking can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Also, walking out in nature helps improve ADHD symptoms in children, as well as improving memory.
Other Exercises to Incorporate in a Health and Wellness Plan
- Interval Cardio –
- Yoga and/or Pilates –
- Mental Exercises –
- Anything else you enjoy!
Tell me about the exercises you enjoy taking a part in. Do you play any sports? I’m thinking about getting involved in a community soccer team or other sport that I’ve never played. Do you garden? Practice yoga? Lift weights? Please let me know in the comments section below! Also, be sure you are balancing your exercise program with healthy, nourishing and tasty foods.
This is The Healthy Advocate.