The Incredible Benefits of Walking

At times it seems like this pandemic will never end and it can be outright depressing! How can you stay optimistic? Well, one way is to revisit your exercise plan (or lack of) and discover the incredible benefits of walking. This article will inspire you to negate your inner couch potato and get moving!

How easy is it for you to can get involved in a work assignment and stay glued to your chair for hours (an office chair potato?) So,what happens after a long work day? You head for the fridge, grab your favorite beverage and make a b-line for the couch. How’s the step count on that? Did you crack 50, maybe 100 steps? That will not do!

First of all, the not so good news

Okay, you saw it coming when you read the title. So here’s the not so good news. Below is a paragraph from an article called Americans sit too much, CDC says, by Susan Scutti;

You’ve heard it before, but the message is still urgent: One in four US adults sits for more than eight hours a day, according to a new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Four in 10 adults do not exercise to either a vigorous or even moderate degree each week, the analysis also reveals. One in 10 Americans report doing both.

This startling news translated:

  • Many of you sit at your desks for eight or more hours a day.
  • Four of every 10 adults don’t even exercise moderately.
  • One in 10 Americans sit at a desk for eight or more hours a day and they don’t exercise.

But we are in this awful quarantine…

But we are in this awful quarantine and the more I sit the more I sit, you might exclaim! And I understand.  I’m fed up too, but I’ve committed to going for a 45 minute walk in the morning. It’s invigorating to exercise outside no matter what time of year…but there are more incredible benefits to walking. 

Shane O’Mara’s Wall Street Journal article Why Walking Matters–Now MoreThan Ever explains that since gyms are closed, and sporting activities are banned, walking is an excellent form of exercise that anyone can do almost any time of the day. Studies show that walking 30 minutes a day can help ease the symptoms of depression.

Your life turned upside down.

Is your life turned upside down?  You may have limited or no time with friends and family (unless you live with them). Not only that you can’t go to concerts, sporting events, restaurants, bars, festivals, gather in the park, ski, shop at the mall, or whatever your favorite activities may be.

Walking is not prohibited!

Walking is not prohibited, and it’s a great opportunity to get outside in the fresh air and spend time in nature! You can even invite your family and friends to join you (if possible).

In the paragraphs below from O’Mara’s article on walking, he discusses the benefits for the brain and help with preventing depression:

What we probably don’t realize is that walking can be a kind of a behavioral preventive against depression. It benefits us on many levels, physical and psychological. Walking helps to produce protein molecules in muscle and brain that help repair wear and tear. These muscle and brain molecules—myokines and neurotrophic factors, respectively—have been intensively studied in recent years for their health effects. We are discovering that they act almost as a kind of fertilizer that assists in the growth of cells and regulation of metabolism. They also reduce certain types of inflammation.

These essential molecules are produced by movement and the increased brain and body activity created by movement. If you’re not moving about, placing heart and muscle under a bit of positive stress and strain, these molecules aren’t produced in sufficient quantities to perform their roles.

When you’re out walking your brain is more active then when sitting down and it helps you discover things faster than if you are sitting down.

Creativity anyone?

Rainbow colored flumes demonstrating that walking boosts creativity
Walking boosts creativity

Additionally, walking boosts creativity. If I’ve been working on a challenging assignment or studying something new and I feel a brain explosion, I know  it’s time to take a break.

My walking breaks can last for as little as 5 minutes. I take a quick spin around the house, jump on my trampoline, or run up and down the block. Eventually, the solution to a challenging problem pops into my brain.  I get new ideas for writing, or come up with a new social marketing strategy. Today on my walk, I even come up with an idea for a game show!  

After I’ve studied something for 2 or 3 hours, taking a walk helps me reflect on what I’ve learned. I might figure out a difficult problem or find a way to apply something new that I’ve learned.

And now a word about our famous “walking” authors

 An article from a Psychology Today: “To Become a Better Writer, Be a Frequent Walker”  (this is right up my alley of course) by Linda Wasmer Andrews discusses famous authors who use(d) walking to boost their creativity. 

Novelists and poets have long held that walking and writing are closely connected. Now there’s research to back up that claim.

Among the past literary luminaries known to be avid walkers were Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and Henry David Thoreau. But perhaps the most celebrated walker-writer was William Wordsworth, who always seemed to be ambling down country lanes, hiking up mountains or wandering as lonely as a cloud. His friend, essayist Thomas De Quincey, estimated that Wordsworth “must have traversed a distance of 175 to 180,000 English miles on foot.”

I was thrilled about this as you may suspect, since I am a writer and an avid walker.

The anti-benefit–inactivity

Walrus sleeping at the zoo represents inactivity can harm you.
Inactivity can harm you

Andrews, from her article on writing discusses the anti-benefit of inactivity:

Recent experiments show that as few as three or four days of inactivity reduces muscle mass in the legs, starting to replace muscle with deposits of fat. This isn’t much of a problem when you’re 30, but it is when you are 60, needing assistance to stand up from your chair. The cure? Get up, walk about and fight the frailty that can come with aging.”

two smiling potatoes sitting on a couch. They are couch potatoes
Are you a couch potato?

So, are you up for some movement? Are you ready to leave your couch potato ways (not completely of course)? Do you want to feel and think better? Have more energy physically and mentally? Boost your creativity and maybe even become a famous writer? If the answer is yes–well then my friend, you have just ascribed to the incredible benefits of walking. So get off that couch, or that Lazy Boy recliner (in my case) and get walking:)!

Happy walking and make sure to leave a comment below or email me about your amazing experience with walking!

Until next Thursday…

Kathy

Blog author Kathy outside walking
The incredible benefits of walking

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