Why you should get walking briskly to support your mind
We all walk but there is walking and there is walking!
Here, I share the benefits of walking, how to get the most from it, how much you ought to try to walk and how long the benefits can last.
We are all aware that exercise helps us to stay physically fit. It is also now known that it uplifts the mood, if carried out regularly. Some scientists report that this is due to the release of endorphins (chemicals in the brain). Endorphins are natural painkillers and can also trigger feelings of happiness. Others say exercise increases levels of certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin (a lack of serotonin is linked to sufferers of depression). These already sound like great reasons to increase our exercise.
Not everyone has the stamina however – or mindset yet – to exercise three or more times a week. Often because they associate it with going to the gym or doing something far more rigorous than walking. They may talk themselves out of it, get distracted or just believe they have better things to do. Not everyone is passionate about exercise.
But walking is exercise - and brisk walking, if you are physically well to do so, can do wonders for you. Whether you’re a director, partner, business owner or employee, there are no excuses! I've recently been talking to clients about interval walking - walk leisurely for five minutes and briskly for one minute to build up the stamina and interest. As they see the benefits and feel more energised, one minute can become two and so on.
The potential results are plentiful.
They can include:
- uplifting your mood
- reducing stress
- increasing energy
- enhancing focus and understanding
- promoting better decision making
- improving sleep
- improving immunity
- increasing resilience
- improving self-esteem.
How to get the most from walking.
These benefits are undoubtedly attractive and appealing. To go a step further, walk mindfully, perhaps alone.
Observe what is around you, take in the sounds, the smells, the feeling of your feet on the ground as you walk. Enjoy your surroundings. Be mindful to take your walking to another level.
How much should you walk?
Catrine Tudor-Locke, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, has researched this and, overall, found that walking about 100 steps per minute for at least 30 minutes a day counts as brisk walking. This is exercise and has the same benefits as any other “exercise”. Still not convinced? She argues that this pace is generally manageable for most people, it’s just about getting started. It’s also free.
Here in the UK, the target is around 10,000 steps a day. With trackers all the rage, this is not impossible but the key is “brisk” and learning to do it more consciously.
How long will the benefits last?
Neuroscientist Dr Andrea Michelli (BioScience) has also stated, following a pioneering study, that the positive effects of walking outdoors, especially around nature, can last for up to seven hours. That could be your entire working day. And if your day is longer, take 20 minutes at lunchtime for a brisk walk as well as your morning walk and the benefits could last right up until you sleep!
Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day for 30 days could have a profound effect on your well-being. With it costing you nothing, what have you got to lose?
I'm no longer able to run which I find hugely frustrating but I have found a love for walking and change it up with interval walking. I highly recommend it and would love to hear how you do.