One of my personal daily self care musts is to go for a walk. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but the benefits of walking are seriously fascinating and go so much farther than simply giving those muscles a workout. And the best part – it’s pretty easy to get on board.
Walking doesn’t require a gym membership or any expensive equipment. And you don’t need to be Duke Nukem to be good at it. If you’re fortunate enough to have two good legs that can bear your weight you can easily reap the rewards of this simple, fantastic activity!
So let’s get our walking shoes laced up and talk about how walking seriously benefits you mentally, physically and emotionally.
The benefits of walking are pretty flipping cool guys – I’m really excited for you to take all of this goodness in.
Walking Gets Those Creative Juices Flowing
I bet you thought I was going to stick to the benefits of walking as an exercise on this one. But surprise, surprise, I’ve got some extra juice to share. I’m sure you didn’t think creativity would find it’s way onto this list! But seriously, walking really does help to boost those creative thoughts.
Sounds kinda bonkers right? Let’s look to Marily Oppezzo for answers.
Marily Oppezzo is a behavioral and learning scientist as well as an Instructor of Medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center (smart cookie!) This incredible woman studies how moving your body can affect your mind. And her research on walking is flipping fascinating!
Her team focused on how walking affects how you come up with creative ideas. When test subjects were allowed to go for a walk they were twice as creative as their sitting counterparts. And the coolest thing? The creative boost lasts! Even when they were instructed to sit for the next round of tests, the walkers still outsmarted those who sat the entire time. (source)
What does this mean for you?
Next time you have a meeting or need to come up with a creative idea, go for a walk! According to Ms. Oppezzo you should follow these 5 rules:
- Pick a topic to focus on
- Walk at a comfortable pace
- Come up with as many ideas as you can
- If possible, record them (so you remember) – you can easily do this with headphones and your cell
- Be patient with yourself – if the ideas aren’t flowing today that’s ok
Why not just write your ideas down?
While writing your ideas down might seem like the best idea, when trying to be as creative as possible it’s best to remain in a state where we aren’t judging our thoughts. Overthinking things is the enemy of creativity. But when you allow your thoughts to simply flow, without hesitation or judgement you become more creative and expressive. And that’s where all the good ideas come from.
Walking is a Fantastic Way to Exercise
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we should be getting (at the bare minimum) 150 minutes of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week (source). If that seems like a heck of a lot of minutes think about it this way – if you go for a 30 minute walk every day that’s 210 minutes a week. Bam! Moderate exercise needs met and exceeded. Not so bad, eh?
My favourite part – a walk doesn’t feel like work. It’s relaxing and enjoyable. Which, in my opinion, makes for a pretty awesome go to workout. If it doesn’t feel like work it’s a lot easier to stick to it. You might not feel like going to the gym after a long day at work. But a walk is a great way to clear your mind, relax and get a workout in. It’s basically all win!
But is walking really that good of a form of exercise?
Heck yes it is! One of the benefits of walking on the regular is that it helps to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancers and even depression. Routinely going for a brisk walk can also help you maintain a healthy weight (or find your way to one), improve the quality of your sleep and, in older walkers, even delays the onset of dementia (woah!) (source)
The goodness doesn’t stop there! This low-impact weight-bearing exercises (I know weight bearing sounds weird, but you are literally bearing your own weight as you walk) has even more to offer. Here are a few more benefits of walking from The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing cholesterol levels
- Increasing bone density, thus helping to prevent osteoporosis
- Strengthening your muscles
- Increasing flexibility, balance and coordination
- Managing the effects of osteoarthritis
- Easing back pain
That’s a lot of reward for basically no risk, right? Just wear good shoes!
Walking Can Improve Your Mood
A brisk walk in the great outdoors can actually help to reduce feelings of depression! Say what?! That’s pretty freaking amazing, right? But is it too good to be true?
According to this study in the Journal of Mental Health and Physical Activity, walking can have a significant effect on the symptoms of depression. While they stress that more studies are definitely needed, the current data is promising!
And hey, there’s more to be excited about. One study concluded that 200 minutes of walking every week can leave us feeling more energized and create a positive emotional health. It even makes us more likely to socialize. Those who took part still felt less limited by their depression 3 years later! And remember, we totally surpass that 200 minute mark if we go for a short, 30 minute walk every day.
Even if you aren’t dealing with depression, one of the awesome benefits of walking is that it can still boost your physical and emotional well-being.
How does it work?
According to Dr. Adrian Taylor, Professor of Health Service Research at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, the true reason exercise makes us feel so good is unknown. It’s believed that exercise may distract us from our worries, give us a sense of control and release “feel-good” hormones (source). But they’re still looking into the exact reason why it works so well.
Walking is a Wonderful Form of Self Care
I feel that’s already pretty clear, with all of the awesome benefits of walking that we just covered. But there’s so much more to it than that. Walking is an opportunity for mindfulness; it allows us to simply exist in the present moment and enjoy the scenery. It can be a form of moving meditation and allow us to truly connect with ourselves. In this age of over stimulation, walking can give us the opportunity to disconnect and give our beautiful brains a break.
And hey, it can happen anywhere – one of the benefits of walking is that it’s an opportunity for adventure. We don’t even have to do it solo. Enjoy the scenery, be alone with your thoughts or roam in good company. It’s completely up to you.
Feeling a little info overload?
Don’t you worry! I’ve got a free download with all this goodness in point form and a pretty nifty bonus section. You can get it right here:
Do you like to go for a walk every day? Do you enjoy it as a form of you time or a chance to bond with the people you love? What’s your favourite form of exercise? Let me know in the comments below.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: There is often more than meets the eye.