9 Benefits of Walking for Your Body, Mind and Soul
The benefits of walking for health are well researched and widely known. Remember the last time you went for a walk and how energized and uplifted you felt. It was awesome, yes?
You know that walking is good for you. You might have fallen out of your daily walking rhythm because of the weather or your schedule. I'm here to remind you to get back into the swing of it and why it's important for you to do so.
I've put together this handy resource, to sum up, the benefits of walking for health for those days when you miss your morning walk, forget to squeeze it in at lunchtime or get lax on your evening constitutional. No matter what time of the day is your ideal time to go walking, it's always the right time to get back in the groove and reap the benefits of walking for your body, mind, and soul.
Benefits of Walking for Your Body
1. Improve Balance And Coordination. Walking over varied terrain – on sidewalks, stony paths, grassy hills – increases your sense of balance and coordination. Walking requires small adjustments to maintain your balance: (1) adjusting your pace, (2) moving your head left and right, up and down, to see where you're going, (3) turning and twisting your body as you adjust to the terrain.
2. Reduce Joint Pain. A daily walk helps reduce inflammation and stiffness in your joints. That's natural pain relief for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Lose Weight. Even though walking is a low impact form of exercise it builds muscles, which strengthens your bones too. If you’re just starting out, make it a comfortable pace. You should be able to talk easily as you're walking. As you get more fit, you can increase the intensity by alternating short bursts of high intensity walking (faster speed or uphill walks) interspersed with periods of low intensity walking.
4. Get Regular. Daily walking results in regular bowel movements. When you're living a sedentary lifestyle your digestion slows down and elimination becomes more difficult, causing constipation. The increased blood flow from walking regularly helps to carry waste quicker through your digestive system.
Benefits of Walking for Your Mind
5. Memory Booster. In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise can boost the size of your hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning. Activity in your body increases activity in your brain.
6. Mood Enhancer. No matter how fast or slow you walk, walking gets you outside and in the fresh air. This alone will make you feel better as your body absorbs the oxygen and sunshine (Vitamin D!). Walking releases endorphins that help lift your mood and can even reduce depression. It also reduces the level of cortisol in your body, a hormone that's linked to causing stress. Walking improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
7. Heals Symptoms of PTSD. In a recent study led by Dr. Simon Rosenbaum results suggest that focusing on your body and how it feels as you walk, can actually help your nervous system become unstuck. Participants paid close attention to their bodies: the physical sensations in their joints and muscles, even how they felt inside. The study found that total symptoms of PTSD, including depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and stress were reduced by the time spent walking.
Benefits of Walking for Your Soul
8. Creates Connection. When your walking is done consciously, combining your breath and your body, it becomes a mind/body movement, a walking meditation. Walking in nature awakens your connection to all of Life. It increases your sense of Oneness and creates clarity, calm, and consciousness.
9. Increases Creativity. Many of my best ideas come in the shower. It turns out that walking is right up there for enhancing creativity. Walking wakes up your brain and opens the flow of ideas increasing creative thinking. While your body is in movement your mind is free to wander and make random connections leading to out of the box ideas.
Walking has been used by mystics, metaphysicians, and modern-day scientists to heal the body, ease the mind and soothe the soul. Ready to reap the benefits of walking and join the practitioners of this timeless tradition? I have begun a daily practice of walking for 30 minutes. I feel better already!