By Gill Stewart at
Why is walking the perfect way to de stress and gain total wellbeing?
Brisk Walking like any kind of any other cardiovascular activity, boosts the production of stress-busting endorphins which helps to relieve stress hormones in the body. This article from the HEALTH GUIDE outlines just how brilliant general EXERCISE can be for mental health.
However, we feel that walking simply has the edge over exercise per se because walking is a natural rhythmic action that allows you to take in everything around you and incorporates other mood boosting ingredients.
The fact that it is outdoors with fresh air, contact with nature and vitamin D is a massive tonic but there is also something deeper that creates mental and physical wellbeing – our favourite book at WALX is by a neuro scientist Shane O’Mara and its called IN PRAISE OF WALKING because it explores the science behind something that is uniquely Human and far more complex that you might imagine. In essence he explains that walking is deeply connected to our brains and our bodies and that is fundamental to our existence as a species.
The action of putting one foot in front of the other in an upright position means we have free hands and can look forward, this made us brilliant hunters and foragers but also meant that we have developed to work as a total being. When we sit for hours we may be using our brains and when we exercise we will be using our bodies but when we WALK…… we use them both in harmony and that’s where the magic happens!
In the book Shane O Mara says
“The latest research is only now revealing how the brain and nervous system performs the mechanical magic of balancing, navigating a crowded city, or running our inner GPS system.
Walking is good for our muscles and posture; it helps to protect and repair organs, and can slow or turn back the ageing of our brains. With our minds in motion we think more creatively, our mood improves and stress levels fall. Walking together to achieve a shared purpose is also a social glue that has contributed to our survival as a species.
As our lives become increasingly sedentary, we risk all this. We must start walking again, whether it’s up a mountain, down to the park, or simply to school and work. We, and our societies, will be better for it.”
Even a short walk with the dog can set you up for the day but building walking into daily life reaps even more rewards as it helps to clear the mind as well as work the body. Next time you find yourself staring at a computer screen and your mind has gone blank – get up and go for a walk. Not only will your neck and shoulders thank you and your posture improve but you will feel your creativity return as your mind is stimulated by what is happening around you and working in tandem with the rest of your body with every step you take.
Walking as a form of exercise is energising and refreshing rather than exhausting and it even enables the walker to add other elements like yoga poses, tai chi moves and even enjoy ‘Forest bathing’ to totally unwind if they want to.
Stunning outdoor spaces like wildflower meadows, forests and hilltop views add a secret dimension to any mindful or relaxation session and by coupling it with walking, you add some CV and whole body exercise to the mix – what a way to reduce stress, improve balance, boost health and gain fitness too?
Health is at the heart of everything we do and our wellness WALX feature a mix of relaxation and rehabilitation where balance, range of movement and flexibility are also improved via gentle exercises whilst on the move with plenty of walking.
Ill health is not a barrier to getting started either, it’s a reason to!
Many people battle with the stress of dealing with a long term health condition and often the focus is on what they can no longer do or are finding difficult. In a lot of cases, walking is manageable or can be adapted to work for them, so we like to focus on solutions like adding poles to relieve joint pain or help with balance. We also like to help people get back on their feet because movement is medicine and walking is the best way to move!
Sometimes it’s just a case of taking things slowly if fitness levels are low but having the support from a team who are to understand a range of conditions and how to manage them, helps massively too. We may not walk far initially (the session above rarely leaves the football pitch adjacent the local GP surgery) but the walkers usually improve hugely in a matter of weeks. Our ‘no rush’ approach is designed to match the needs of each and every participant and our mantra is simple…one step at a time. We aim to encourage and support people to experience the benefits of walking more because we know that once people take that first step the rest are easy and the rewards are HUGE
After all studies have found that those who adhered to a programme of walking showed significant improvements including blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, slowing of resting heart rate, reduction of body fat and body weight and improved depression scores. Other improvements were a better quality of life and increased measures of endurance, something we see all of the time. In this study by the British journal of Sports medicine the findings are clear
Walking interventions have a clinically significant effect on cardiovascular disease risk factors including body mass, body mass index, body fat, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting glucose and an increase in VO2max.
Even modest amounts of walking appear to provide health benefits.
Its worth also noting that for those with high blood pressure there could be double benefits from joining wellness WALX because studies have shown that high blood pressure is one of the risk factors of vascular dementia and that walking for 20 minutes a day is one of the best way to reduce your risk of this form of dementia that gets less press than Alzheimer’s but is just as debilitating.
So to sum up, walking for wellness can be anything from a simple mindful walk with a few yoga poses to a rehabilitation walk for those with medical contraindications and the message from the WALX team is…..whatever your reason, we are here to make sure its safe and enjoyable. Especially in these difficult times where it’s also reassuring to know that WALX is Covid secure