May 18, 2020
Michelle Wilson, wellness program manager
One Step Closer to Health–take a walk!
It’s May and the flowers are blooming. All of nature seems to be coming alive, and it is a great time to go outside. One way to enjoy the natural world is to take a walk, which not only supports health, but also allows us to appreciate the beauty all around us.
Walking offers several health benefits. It can ease pain in our joints and muscles, support the health of our heart and other organs, and help us build up endurance so we can increase the types of exercise we are able to do. It is something we can do slowly or quickly, allowing us to pay attention to what our body needs in the way of movement.
In addition to the physical health benefits, walking can assist in improving emotional health. Walking even 10 or 15 minutes a day increases blood flow to the brain and throughout the body, causing the release of hormones that can ease feelings of sadness or anxiety. When we walk with others, we have the added benefit of making social connections that are great for our well-being. When we walk alone we can create time for ourselves to think and reflect about what matters to us, helping us be more mindful and at peace when we return to other activities. We may also feel more creative after a walk, as the increased blood flow to our brains helps us think more clearly.
If all of that isn’t enough of a reason to go outside and take a walk, then read this portion of a Harvard Medical School article called Walking for Health:
Walking can have a bigger impact on disease risk and various health conditions than just about any other remedy that’s readily available to you. What’s more, it’s free and has practically no negative side effects. Walking for 2.5 hours a week – that’s just 21 minutes a day – can cut your risk of heart disease by 30%. In addition, this do-anywhere, no-equipment-required activity has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and keep you mentally sharp.
So, are you ready to take a walk?
Tip: If you don’t already walk regularly, start slowly. Walk for 10 minutes a day and increase to doing that twice a day, or simply increase how far you go on your daily walk. If you already have a regular walking routine, increase the amount of walking you do or pick up the pace to increase the health benefits. Be sure to talk with your doctor or another health care professional if you have any concerns about this or other types of exercise. Enjoy your walk!