Tag Archives: walk

Walk Your Way to a Healthy Mood

WalkHealthyMoodSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor



Increasingly, walking is considered an essential form of exercise to reduce chronic disease risk, manage weight and support optimal health. Whether one walks for recreation, transportation or increased fitness, walking can be adjusted to suit individual needs, preferences, abilities and schedules. Walking is a simple, natural and inexpensive form of exercise. It requires no special skills nor equipment other than a pair of supportive footwear. The benefits of physical activity depend on intensity, duration and frequency. As such, the American Heart Association guidelines recommend that able-bodied adults participate in moderate intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, for a minimum of 30 minutes daily five days per week. Similar to other forms of moderate intensity exercise like swimming, cycling or dancing, walking not only improves a realm of cardiac risk factors, including vascular stiffness, obesity, inflammation and blood pressure; it also helps protect against dementia and depression.

In addition to all the physical benefits of a daily walk, there are very real and immediate psychological effects as well. Research suggests that many underestimate the extent to which going for a walk positively benefits mood. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is evidence to suggest that exercise as a behavioral intervention has shown great promise in alleviating symptoms of depression. Research has also shown that those who are depressed are less physically fit, which in turn contributes to other physical health problems associated with sedentary behavior. An overwhelming majority of studies have confirmed the efficacy of exercise on improving mood and reducing symptoms of depression. Research also suggests that the benefits of exercise participation have long lasting effects. However, consistent moderate intensity exercise has proven to be most beneficial.

Studies have shown that regular walkers who self-assessed their overall health reported that they had improved their diets, felt more energetic and highly rated their overall mood, happiness and self-esteem. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety and negative mood and enhancing cognitive function and self-worth. A study by psychologists at Iowa State University found that even when the benefits typically associated with exercise research, such as fresh air, nature, social contact and the expectation of improved heath were disregarded, walking in and of itself proved to be a powerful mood lifter. The researchers argued that positive emotions are closely linked with movement, as humans evolved to move to find sustenance and other rewards.

It appears that though many prefer to sit rather than move, we are happier when we are busy and active. Those who avoid exercise because they are not sure where to start should know that just getting out for a walk can make a meaningful difference in mental and physical health. When you’re feeling disengaged or sluggish, a brisk 10 minute walk can be energizing, uplifting and refreshing. It’s well established that aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health. As a highly metabolic organ, the brain requires good blood flow to deliver necessary oxygen and nutrients. During exercise, blood vessels dilate allowing blood flow throughout the body to dramatically increase. Improved blood flow and reduced blood pressure are both associated with improved cognitive function. The effects of exercise are also linked to improved executive functions such as planning, thinking and judgment.

While high intensity exercise releases feel good brain chemicals, there is value in lower intensity exercise sustained long term. Regular physical activity prompts the release of proteins known as neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and form new connections. Nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, the region that regulates mood, helps to alleviate depression over time. Evidence-based health benefits of regular exercise include improved sleep, better endurance, stress relief, increased energy and stamina, weight reduction, and improved cardiovascular fitness, as well as mood enhancement and increased mental alertness.

Walking: Your steps to health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health
Walking may be one of the simplest ways to boost your mood. https://www.businessinsider.com/walking-improves-mood-2016-10
Exercise for Mental Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/
Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/
Walking Can Lift Your Mood Even When You Don’t Expect It to. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201608/walking-can-lift-your-mood-even-when-you-dont-expect-it
Regular Walking Can Help Ease Depression. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/regular-walking-can-help-ease-depression/
Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression


Walk! You’ll Live Longer

IncreaseLifespanWalkSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

If research showed that walking twenty minutes each day could add several years to your lifespan, would that be enough to motivate you? It’s enough to convince 30% of American adults who take a daily walk for their health and enjoyment. For many baby boomers, as the reality of age-related aches and pains sets in, so does the realization that, although we can’t prevent growing older, we can take steps to stay healthier longer. Likely, if there were a miracle pill that could actually prevent or manage chronic diseases, help with weight maintenance, strengthen bones and improve mood with absolutely no side effects, not many would refuse it. Perhaps, if health practitioners wrote prescriptions for health care rather than sick care, we might all find time for a daily walk, as well as look for any opportunity to get in additional movement each day.

Turns out, daily walking may be the best anti-aging prescription of all. Researchers have known since the 1950’s that sickness and mortality rates are directly affected by inactivity. Exercise scientists who study physical activity have found that the more we sit, the more likely we are to die prematurely. Our bodies are designed to move, yet the average office worker sits for 9 – 10 hours a day, plus the additional hours spent sitting at home in the evenings. Actually, one might consider prolonged sitting one’s worst enemy when it comes to longevity, as we now know that prolonged sitting is deleterious to our health and is associated with much higher risks of developing life-shortening chronic illnesses. As some studies have shown, 150 minutes of brisk walking each week is a small price to pay for the prospect of a longer, healthier, more active lifespan.

There’s good reason why people are turning to standing desks, as health professionals recommend standing during at least 50% of your work day, as well as mixing in other low intensity activities, including pacing while talking on the phone, holding walking or standing meetings, and getting away from your desk at lunchtime. Once there is an awareness, many opportunities for frequent bits of movement throughout the day will begin to present themselves. There are mixed opinions on whether an hour of activity each day can negate the effects of sitting for extended time periods. However, studies have shown that walking has many health benefits, including lowered risks of obesity, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive loss, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer, as well as improved mobility and blood pressure, blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

  • Walking requires no special equipment beyond a good pair of sneakers.
  • It’s easy, inexpensive and takes no special skills.
  • It’s the most accessible form of exercise that can be done anywhere.
  • Those who have been sedentary for a while, can start slowly and work toward an overall goal of 20 – 30 minutes daily.
  • Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise and allows for time outdoors to enjoy nature.
  • Walking with your pet will help with their weight management and increase their overall health as well.
  • By strengthening leg muscles and muscles around the joints, walking helps to reduce pain associated with arthritis, improves mobility and reduces the risk of hip fractures.
  • Walking in short bouts will also increase fitness. If you have only 10 minutes, make them active minutes.

Daily walking is the best anti-aging prescription. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/daily-walking-is-the-best-anti-aging-prescription/article31310961/
12 Benefits of Walking. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/walking/wow-of-walking.php
Walk, Don’t Run, Your Way to a Healthy Heart. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walk-Dont-Run-Your-Way-to-a-Healthy-Heart_UCM_452926_Article.jsp
10 Reasons To Go For A Walk Right Now. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/13/health-benefits-of-walking_n_7544280.html
Health experts have figured out how much time you should walk each day. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/02/medical-researchers-have-figured-out-how-much-time-is-okay-to-spend-sitting-each-day/