The days are still hot but Fall is here, which means good walking weather is around the corner. A long stroll is a great way to burn calories and spend time outdoors, but it has physical and mental health benefits beyond that. Lace up your sneakers, get a good stretch in, and check out some of the ways that walking can hone your mind and body.
There are a number of studies that have found that spending time outdoors relieves stress and can improve your memory. This is partly due to the fact that brisk walking boosts your endorphin levels, which reduces stress and can help fight depression.
Walking is a low-impact activity, which makes it a natural pairing for social activity. A hiking group, a walking buddy, a group stroll: these are all great ways to both stay in shape and stay in touch with people. Social interaction can decrease the amount of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so regular social activity can do wonders for your state of mind.
Researchers have found that people who take walks during the day have longer, more restive sleep than sleepers who are less physically active. Scientists are still trying to explain why that’s the case, though one of the more popular theories is that all that exposure to natural light helps promote a strong circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is your sleep-wake cycle; no two bodies are wired to the same rhythm, which is why some people are early birds while other folks tend to be night owls.
It’s also believed that the social and stress-relieving benefits of walking can have an impact on sleep. Both social interaction and stress relief improve our moods, and a more positive and relaxed state of mind can lead to a deeper, more invigorating rest.
Brisk walking is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your cardiovascular health. It’s easy to do, requires no equipment beyond a sturdy pair of comfortable shoes, and is low-impact on your bones and joints. Having strong cardio can help reduce your anxiety and depression while also helping to mitigate a wide range of potentially debilitating health conditions.
Consistency Is Key
Walking is a great exercise and life practice, but the key is to do it on a regular basis. Its benefits are cumulative and cultivated over time; doing a long walk every now and then won’t achieve the results you crave.