Get out, get walking and feel great
To get the best out of yourself and life, it is important you are healthy and feel good in mind, body and spirt.
Walking is a great and free way to get moving, boost health and creativity, and feel connected and alive. The benefits are powerful.
66% of Irish adults don’t meet basic exercise requirements (Healthy Ireland Report). The standard global recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate (e.g. brisk walking) exercise per week for adults (World Health Organisation). It is an hour per day for children and adolescents.
Physically, walking has so many health benefits. It promotes longevity, bone and muscle health (reducing fracture risk) and helps in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other metabolic diseases, cancer, depression, anxiety, obesity, and many other illness. There are many examples of physical activity alleviating symptoms and pain and boosting mood in those with chronic conditions like back pain. It helps us feel energised. Depending on how we are inside when we walk it can have even greater benefits for the mind, senses and spirt. Walking offers moments of solitude allowing us to reflect and connect inwards as well as an opportunity to connect nature and others – all bringing value to our lives.
The setting makes all the difference. The Japanese practice of forest bathing has many benefits from lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, and reducing stress hormone production to boosting the immune system, and improving the overall feeling of wellbeing. Green exercise, or exercise in nature, is of great interest to researchers who are seeing improvements in ability to cope with stress by interacting in nature and the affect of on our senses.
Moreover, walking lifts our spirit and boosts creativity. It connects us to ourselves and our environment which prepares us to be more connected to life. If we allow it, it brings us fully into the present. As the forest bathing studies show and as we know and feel when walking on a beautiful beach, we get even more benefits from powerful natural settings. Walking also builds momentum for solving problems and getting things done. It de-stresses. When we fully move with the motion, it moves us emotionally and mentally too.
There are relatively few injuries from walking. However, as a caution, if you really want to get the full benefits, minimise phone use and other distractions. Hospitals in the US and probably around the world are experiencing increases in accidents related to technology and walking. The Germans call people that walk engrossed in smart phones–smombies–smartphone + zombies.
As well as risking accidents, Smombies are missing out. To enjoy all the benefits of walking, as with anything in life, allow yourself to be fully engaged in the walk and connect with the setting you are in.
When at work, a walk around your office as a break from desk work gives new ideas. If you can, take the stairs not the lift. These small changes bring great benefits cumulatively at physical, mental and emotional level.
Happy healthy centenenarians integrate exercise into their daily lives. For any of us to be at our best it is important we do to.
As Mr Vincent Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother, “Always continue walking a lot and loving nature, for that’s the real way to understand art better and better”.
So get out and walking this week and watch the results!
Physically, walking has so many health benefits.