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Healthy minds

12 Jun 2020

What are the health advantages of walking?

There are multiple ways in which walking can foster better mental health. From enhancing focus in the workplace to diverting attention away from worries. Here are some of the benefits associated with walking:

  1. Increased endorphin levels

Regular walking enhances the natural release of endorphins which stimulate relaxation and improve your mood. These chemicals work by interacting with receptors in your brain to reduce the perceptions of pain and give feelings of wellbeing.

  1. Improved body confidence

As mentioned, obesity has become a significant risk factor for mental health issues. Having body image concerns has become a prevalent occurrence in modern society. Over a third of UK adults have felt anxious or depressed because of concerns about their body. Over time, walking can promote weight loss and body satisfaction, which promotes better wellbeing.

  1. Enhance focus

Taking part in exercise can help you stay focused and solve problems more efficiently. Aerobic exercises such as walking increase blood flow to the brain, which stimulates cognitive function and concentration. As a result, brief bouts of walking throughout your day can promote focus in the workplace. Additionally, walking can also help you live longer by reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.

  1. Promotes mindfulness

By concentrating on each individual step, walking can become a mindful practice, placing emphasis on the present moment. Like meditation, mindful walking provides an easy technique to reduce anxiety and create feelings of wellbeing.

  1. Better sleep

Research suggests that engaging in regular walking can improve sleep. Aerobic exercises (such as walking) increase the amount of deep sleep you get. This type of sleep allows the brain and body to rest. “We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality” says Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of John Hopkins Center for Sleep and Wellness. 

A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.

But it's not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing.

It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover.

In older people, staying active can improve cognitive function, memory, attention and processing speed, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

"Walking has always been there for me, my confidence has grown immensely. I'm a totally different person now than I was ten years ago and I owe so much of that to walking."

The physical improvements you gain by walking can help to improve your mental health too. If you feel fitter and feel in control of your weight, your body image and confidence can increase - so it's not just the physical benefits that you'll notice when you start walking.

Walk regularly. Invest in your long-term health now and you’ll see the difference that walking can make to your mind, your body and your social life. 

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