It’s time to get moving again. Find out how Covid encouraged us all to get back outside.
When was the last time you took a walk through the park? Chances are that during the pandemic you were re-introduced to the great outdoors. Covid disrupted many of our usual fitness pursuits like going to the gym, sports, fitness classes, etc. and as the industrious humans that we are, we found alternatives because even the most satisfied homebody needs to get outdoors eventually.
A large number of us gravitated to walking because it’s easy, requires virtually no equipment and you can do it by yourself or with family members (without a mask!) Walking not only keeps us sane, it also provides a beneficial side-effect of giving us a stronger, smarter, and healthier body.
Some may think that putting one foot in front of another at a relaxed pace can't be as beneficial as an intense gym session. However, the science behind the benefits of walking might surprise you and, better yet, encourage you to take another lap around the block.
The Benefits of walking daily – Movement is Medicine
We all can agree that anything that gets you up and moving supports a healthier you. Many of us believe a high intensity workout is better for us than walking. It gives us that endorphin rush that makes us feel that we’ve done something good for our bodies. Interestingly, individuals who work out intensely for an hour, often engage in much less activity throughout the day. It’s almost as if the intense workout itself is the price paid to allow ourselves to lounge on the couch the rest of the day. In fact, our bodies experience greater benefit if we have a more regular activity level throughout the day. At wellstead health, we subscribe to the more consistent act of walking, or some level of activity, to encourage continual benefits to our body and health.
There are many benefits to walking and we often hear about these from our physician or in the media, such as:
● Enhanced cardiovascular performance
● Improvement in mood
● Helps posture
● Allows time to recenter
● Boosts creativity
● Allows social Interaction
● Helps digestion
● Improves sleep
● Improves memory
As we reflect back to our days in lockdown, walking became the vice for several of us – those of us who lived for time in the gym and for those who typically spent most of the day sitting at a desk. We needed an outlet for boredom, creativity and grounding; and walking outside became a regular activity for the entire family.
Let’s dive deeper into why some scientists believe walking goes far beyond the known health benefits.
Is Walking a superpower?
Shane O' Mara, famed neuroscientist and driving force behind "Walking is a Superpower”, considers walking to be a major factor in living a long, healthy life. Dr. O'Mara believes that walking cures or reduces symptoms with more efficacy than pills. The simple act of moving in the form of walking creates increased bloodflow and ‘theta brainwaves’. Theta is a pulse that occurs throughout the brain during movement which assists in learning and memory. The aerobic benefit of walking raises the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) increasing resilience to aging, by supporting growth of synapsis, and blood vessel networks that carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells.
The Spiritual Side of Walking
Walking is key for a healthy balance of mind, body, and spirit. For frequent walkers, going without it can cause sluggishness and an overall feeling of unease. And, according to Dr. Shane O’ Mara, a sedentary lifestyle is almost as bad as smoking. But one of the biggest boons is the time walking gives you to center your thoughts and consider the world around you. Walking, even just a few blocks, helps your brain make new connections. Those connections can help you work through problems, which in turn can relieve stress and make you feel more at peace with any situations you’re experiencing in your life. Regardless of where you spend your outside time, urban, rural or suburbia, you connect with nature and soak up vital vitamin D rays, additionally beneficial for your mental health.
Walking is a great activity for anyone, regardless of fitness level. You'll see benefits even if you only make it around the block and a little movement is better than none. It was a great option during the pandemic lockdown period and for many of us has remained a part of our movement routine. Whether your primary goal is exercise, a desire to get outside, or just a new way to pass the time, walking is the answer. There's a reason that walking is considered a superpower. And it's not just because of the physical benefits. Remember that roughly 5,000 steps a day are all you need to nourish your mind, body, and spirit and walk into a brand new you.
Are you experiencing unknown fatigue or sluggishness that has affected your regular activity routine? Have you hit a performance plateau that you cannot overcome? Or do you simply want to become more healthy and incorporate activity in your life so you can live a higher quality life? If you are challenged in any way to re-introduce activity in your life, play with your children or grandchildren or excel in your fitness, we can help!