I have a confession to make. Plain ole walking is, by far, my favorite form of cardiovascular activity. Where 20
minutes on the treadmill or elliptical is a great way to burn some extra calories, and improve your cardiovascular health, it can feel like a stint in an internment camp. At least it does to me.
On the other hand, I can walk outside for a good hour without being bored for a single minute out of the sixty. If you are mindful during a nice walk, you can see all kinds of cool and interesting things. Personally, I like to hit the hiking trails at a state park and see all the glory that Mother Nature has to offer. Being out in nature can make dramatic improvements to your physical and mental states.
Not only is walking free, it can be done pretty much anywhere. It’s also much more beneficial to your overall wellness than walking on a boring old treadmill! In this article I will illustrate the many benefits of walking, and why I consider it such a powerful medicine. Make sure you are healthy enough to incorporate a walking regimen by checking with your healthcare practitioner, and you’ll be off and, well, WALKING!
Walking offers a host of physical benefits that will make our bodies stronger both inside, and out. Of course, everyone knows that walking is a fantastic way to trim your waistline. But there are a number of other benefits that you may not think about. For example, walking has been shown to increase one’s insulin sensitivity which can result in a reduced risk of Type II Diabetes.
Walking can also enhance your virility. This is especially important to folks who are over 45 years of age. Not only can walking increase your overall sex drive, but has also been reported to increase sexual satisfaction as well. I could probably stop writing now, as I am sure that this benefit alone has you all convinced to start walking right now, but I will continue.
Pop a pain pill? What for? Walking has been shown to reduce pain in your lower back (I have experienced this one first hand), fibromyalgia, joint pain, and arthritis. Strengthens bones due to the weight bearing aspect causing the bones to naturally build and thicken. This can also help combat osteoporosis as well. Additionally, walking has been linked to a reduction in rates of cancer, and even strokes. Finally, if you are walking outdoors (and why wouldn’t you be) it can increase your natural production of Vitamin D. We have all heard about the numerous benefits that adequate levels of Vitamin D can have on a person’s health.
The evidence is impossible to ignore, there are a myriad of psychological benefits associated with walking. It may sound to good to be true, but much like it can reduce the need for pain medications walking can reduce the needs of psychological medications as well. This includes anti-anxiety, medications, antidepressants, and sleeping pills. It can also play a role in fighting addiction. As with any form of exercise, walking can also boost your brain function.
Helps You Manage Stress
Stress management is important to all of us, especially in this fast-paced day and age. The good news is that walking can cause an increase in the production of nor-epinephrine, having a calming effect on the body. An upsurge of these feel-good hormones known as endorphins can help relieve your stress and anxiety. Too much stress can put you on the path to depression. But, there’s good news. Walking has been shown to be just as effective in treating depression as prescription antidepressants. There have been many documented cases to support this claim. How about that? Just as effective as a prescription medication, without any of the negative side effects!
If you are having trouble seeing the good in yourself, never fear! Evidence suggests that walking can positively raise your self-esteem, self-worth, and boost up your self-image. The best part is, walking does not discriminate with regard to weight, gender, or race. But, if you are walking regularly, you will most likely notice a decrease in your fat deposits, which can enhance your self-esteem even more! Additionally, when other people see you walking regularly, you could inspire others around you to begin walking. It can be a good feeling knowing that you have indirectly influenced their lives for the better. Great job!
Slows the Aging Process
Want to age gracefully? I mean, who doesn’t right? Walking can prevent cognitive deterioration by boosting certain chemicals that prevent the degradation of your hippocampus. Speaking of the hippo-campus (because it’s SO common right?), physical activity can improve your memory by causing new cells to actually be created in the hippocampus. More cells in the hippocampus can mean better memory, and less risk of dementia as we age.
Yet another benefit is the upgrade in creativity that you will receive for upwards of two hours following a brisk walk. So, if you are having trouble with a project, article, homework, or that work assignment that has your boss keeps breathing down you neck about; go for a walk and let it simmer for a bit. Then when you get back, attack the problem with a refreshed perspective. I bet you are able to demolish that roadblock that you just couldn’t seem to get past before.
Research has also shown that the increase in dopamine you receive from walking can reduce the tendency for dependency on alcohol and other drugs. The reason for this is because dopamine activates the reward system in your brain, thereby increasing your overall pleasure with life in general. You may also experience a decrease in your desire to use drugs and alcohol as a way to relax. When you go for a vigorous walk, you burn off excess energy, release some pent-up frustration, and as we’ve stated earlier release dopamine. This allows you to feel more relaxed afterward, and less apt to want to self-medicate as a way to cope with uneasiness.
Greater levels of dopamine in your system can also lead to a fantastic night’s sleep, cutting down the number of sleeping pills you may have to take. A better night’s sleep can also reduce stress, improve productivity, and give you more energy to get through your day. You will be set-up to take on your day like the true warrior you are!
Good posture is paramount when walking and maintaining the overall structural integrity of the body. Here are a few tips for walking with great posture:
- Head straight ahead with your cheekbones directly over your collarbones
- Shoulders back, but relaxed
- Back straight, not hunched or arched
- Abdominal muscles slightly tensed
- Arms swinging naturally, or can be pumped
- Arms should swing opposite of your legs (If your right leg is forward, your left arm should also be forward)
Make it Challenging
You should also find ways to make walking more difficult, so that you can reap all the benefits that walking has to offer. You could do things like walk uphill, add intervals of sprinting, or use a weighted vest. If fat-loss is your goal you could take a fat burner, L- Carnitine, or both. Moreover, walking can help you increase ALL aspects of wellness.We have covered how walking can improve your Physical & Emotional Wellness, but how about the other five areas?
Improves Other Areas of Wellness
For your Environmental and Social Wellness, why not take a walk with a friend or family member? There is something about moving while talking that just seems to make the conversation flow easier.
To increase your Occupational Wellness, take a walk with a business associate or contact. This could help you get along better with your coworkers, and who knows, maybe even start a trend in your workplace. After a nice walk with a sales lead, the potential customer may feel so good that you are finally able to make that tough sale, improving your Financial Wellness.
Want to boost your Intellectual Wellness? Download an audio book to listen to on your walk, and expand your knowledge base. Hey, if fiction is more your thing the increased brain activity will still boost your intellectual wellness. So, you can kill two birds with one stone. Look at you multitasking like a champ!
Walking is a wonderful way to get in your recommended (by Cro-MagNum Core Values) 30-60 minutes of cardio each day. This wonderful activity provides plenty of great physical perks which include weight control, aging gracefully, and reducing pain. Possibly even more importantly, provides countless psychological benefits like lower stress, longer life, lessened depression, reduced potential for addiction, and maintaining mental capacity with age. Walking can also be used to improve every aspect related to your Total Wellness. Who knew that something as simple as walking could have such an abundance of benefits. Well, now you do! SO, get walking and substantially improve your whole life. Take a step toward evolving into a Cro-MagNum Person today, and live life with vigor!