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Walking for Mental Health Benefits [Safe, Effective and Cost-effective]

Lifts Mood | Relieve Anxiety and Stress | The alertness of Mind | Sleep Better | Improved Self Esteem | Risk Reduction of Dementia

 

Walking-for-Mental-Health-Benefits

 

Get out and walk. Enjoy the combined benefit of powerful healing forces of nature- air, water, earth, and sunlight. Walking is safe, effective and cost-effective.

Empower yourself with this natural gift of walking for acquiring important mental health benefits (1).

A healthy mind is our most important possession as humans. The current culture is responsible in many ways for the deterioration of the mind. Heavy corporate workload, sedentary life-style, poverty, indoor culture, financial stress, isolation due to heavy involvement in social media is some of the underlying causes of an impaired mind. Most of us are a victim of an unhealthy mind at some point in our life.

Walking every day on a regular basis can help our mental wellbeing (2)

Merging walk to your daily routine can be a simple, soft but powerful act to accomplish great health. Regular brisk walking for 30 minutes a day can offer you a multitude of health benefits. If you don’t have a continuous 30 minutes, then you can replace it with 3 of 10 minutes’ walk for health benefits.

A healthy body inspires a Healthy mind and serves as a platform for great mental health.

Lifts Mood

Walking on sunlight elevates mood.

The sunlight stimulates the retina of your eyes produces the hormone serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin improves mood and makes you happy. Sun is the most powerful source of life. The other two being air and mother earth (3).  Imagine some of the dark winter days and how your mood and mind feel while you desperately for the summer to come. People who starve sunlight due to their geographic location have a higher suicide rate.

Sunlight produces Vitamin-D and indirectly increases the serotonin level (the happy hormone)

Caution! Take care of your skin while walking on sunlight not to get sunburn or sunstroke.

Thirty minutes of exercise of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking for 3 days a week, can benefit your health. Moreover, these 30 minutes need not be continuous; three 10-minute walks are believed to be as equally useful as one 30-minute walk.

Relive Anxiety and Stress

The above-mentioned hormones, dopamine, and serotonin (the “feeling good hormones”) reduce negativity from your mind. It takes your mind off from brooding over weakness and reduces stress and anxiety.

Vitamin-D works as anti-depressants in your body.  The addition of Vitamin-D to conventional anti-depressant agents can improve the anti-depressive effect in contrast to placebo as per a research review (4).

So taking a few minutes of walk around noon during Vitamin-D production occurs can immensely benefit your health. Sunlight is free. So use it sensibly to your mental and overall health benefit (5).

The alertness of Mind: Walking in the morning makes you feel energetic after a night of inactivity on the bed. It makes you active in enhancing alertness in your mind. Alertness helps to react to a situation wisely and makes you build confidence over time.

Sleep Better:  Supported by research and tested by many, walking makes you sleep better. Adequate sleep help to have a calm mind, ensures a good day not becoming grouchy and your overall performance.

Improved Self-esteem: Regular walking protects and strengthens your heart, elevates mood making you feel upbeat, increases blood flow and oxygen amount in the blood, walking triggers the release of endorphin. This hormone is responsible for making you feel good overall.  This good feel helps boost your self-esteem.

Walking Improves Brain Functions

Walking increases the amount of grey matter in the brain which is related to better brain health, (2010-Journal of Neurology).

A clinical trial of older adults in Japan (2015-Journal of the American Geriatrics Society) participated in a prescribed in a 12 weeks walk-exercise and found

·       Greater improvement in memory

·       Increased ability to pay focused attention

·       Improvement in switching various tasks in daily routine compared to a control group

Researchers at New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU, 2017) found that the foot’s impact during walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that significantly modify and can increase the supply of blood to the brain.

Risk-reduction of Dementia (6).

Dementia is a group of symptoms that impacts memory and thus make it difficult for your daily task correctly and reliably. Slow and decreased walking speed can increase dementia impacting the ability to reason and judge. In a research study analysis with 9949 participants, the decrement of walking speed by 360 miles/h increased the risk of inertia by 13%.

A study involving 7501 Chinese adults, regularly exercised people had lower odds of developing dementia than those who did not exercise regularly. (7)

Always one looks for the best. Is there a place where one may realize the most benefit from walking?

Is There a Preferred Place to walk?

Walking on Sunshine

Research shows growing evidence of mental health benefits though more studies need to be done to complete the study to provide individual evidence (8).

Walk Around a Negative Ion Environment

Nature exposure and walking may have additive beneficial effects for mental health (9).

Relax by a river, over a mountain or near a beach to swap your mind. The negative ions on air and water help neutralize the positive ions and radicals from your body and mind.  It fills you with freshness, clarity and positive thoughts. It soothes a depressed mind. Plan a vacation or a weekly get away with keeping the negative ion environment in mind.

Just Walk

Just walk if you lack a preferred space as described earlier. Create an opportunity to walk. It may be walking from your car or from around a shopping mall. Walking inside the house or on the treadmill during winter

Takeaway

  • Instill walking as an important exercise into your vibe. Supplement your life always with a healthy diet.
  • Walking is always underestimated as a mind boosting exercise. Now you know the huge package of benefits it comes with.
  • It elevates your mood; you rest better at night and it empowers your mind to stave you off from anxiety and depression. Walking enhances your overall brain health. These combined brisk movements help you get a healthy body that always helps your mind

Anusuya Choudhury

10 Comments

  1. Hello. Tha ks a lot for sharing with us such an amazing article an explanation given.

    Healthy mind in a healthy body. This is my favorite motto and i follow it every day. In my opinion a day without sport is a lost day. Walking out is the most easy, beautiful and amazing day to do sport, inspire yourself and explore our nature. I like to walk everywhere especially when i visit new cities or countries. I take 2 things with me, a smartwatch for helping my ro monitorize my steps and a camere to catch all the beautiful views and moments.

    If you don’t mind i will share this article on my social media accounts. Wish you a happy new year.

    • Hi there,

      I am happy for you. You are making your day better by taking efforts to walk.

      I am not aware of any walk to track the posture which is vital to not to get injured during the walk.

      Please share it with your social media.

      Thank you for stopping by and offering your insight.

  2. Hello Anusuya, Thank you for writing on the Walking for Mental Health Benefits. I enjoy your article while reading your and find very useful for mental health. Walking every day on a regular basis can help our mental wellbeing. Walking on sunlight elevates mood. Walking increases the amount of grey matter in the brain which is related to better brain health. Thank you for guiding on walking benefits to our mental health.

    Parveen

    • Hi Parveen,

      I am glad that you enjoyed the article and found it helpful.

      Thank you for stopping by. Happy walking.

  3. Wow! Thank you for this great article, Choudury! It is true that the problem often faced by many people is a mental problem. Often this mental problem is like a disease that many people do not realize and can turn into a deadly disease, especially for personal life.
    I personally, one of those who was verdicted 5 years ago to have moderate to high depression.
    And it is true as you write, that one of the cure is walking. Because by walking, especially in nature, we can be more grateful for this life.
    However, to be honest, I sometimes still feel the depression (even though I have no longer take any medication), what do you think I have to deal with, when I feel the factors that cause mental illness is coming again?
    Thanks!

    • Hey Kylie,

      Meditation helps along with walking. Doing pranayama every day makes you feel nothing is big in life. This is my personal experience. I am glad you are out of medication. They can be addictive and terrible at times.

      Thank you for reading the article and sharing your personal opinion.

  4. Wow, this is really educating. I’ve never thought of how working is so important to health. The features and benefits that walking alone brings is mind-blowing and you don’t need any special equipment in doing so. Just walk.

    Truly, merging work to our daily routine can be very powerful to accomplish great health. This is what I should start doing.

    Thank you, Anusuya, for this invaluable article.

  5. So , from what I have read so far in this post on walking for mental health benefits, I can proudly say that I am reaping the good mental health benefits of walking because I have been a treker for a very long time now (haha); well, I enjoyed it all the time. Thanks for sharing because I learnt so more stuffs about walking.

    Kind regards!

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