Walk It Off!
Stuck in a Funk and Need a Quick Recharge? Take a Walk.
We all know the benefits of walking, both for physical and for mental health. It seems like new research and information comes out on a weekly basis of how getting those 10,000 steps in or how taking a brisk 20 minutes each day can pretty much give us superhero strength and the mental clarity of Gandhi.
So why are so many of us still slacking when it comes to getting out there and moving?
I get it. You’ve had a long stressful and exhausting day. Week. Month. It looks like it may rain. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. You don’t want to smell like sweat. It’s too early. It’s too late...and so on and so on.
Truth is, being in that “eh, I will walk tomorrow” funk does nothing more than keeps us in a funk! Not only a walk-less funk…but a funk that impacts our mindsets, productivity, career, relationships, LIFE!
The first step in banishing that funk is to do just that…TAKE THE FIRST STEP! Literally. Toss your sneaks on, get outside (bring a buddy if you’d like), and take the first step. Then the second...and many more after that until you feel satisfied. Let your mind wander and just be in the moment. Enjoy!
For a little boost in motivation, I’ve compiled some benefits of walking for you to peruse through…
From Around the Web
Good Relaxation shared an amazing post on walking. Aside from regulating your mood and boosting your confidence, this post shares both immediate and long term benefits of sticking to a consistent walking routine.
During and after a walk, you may notice that:
Your mind is clearer
Stress, negative emotions, and depressed mood are lessened
You feel happier and more energized, as walking encourages the release of endorphins (aka: the “feel good” chemical)
In the long-term, walking helps to:
Strengthen brain functions such as mental reasoning and memory
Improve quality of sleep
Improve overall quality of life
In accordance with this information, the New York Times published an article based on studies conducted by Gregory Bratman which surmised that walking is beneficial to mental health. Bratman’s studies however, focused on the act of walking in natural settings. Preliminary conclusions found that taking a little nature walk as opposed to a walk in a high-population or built up area, can actually change your brain!
The study found that participants who walked along tree-lined paths and more natural settings had improved mental health and clarity.
For more on the benefits of walking for your mood and overall mental health, you can checkout Mark’s Daily Apple, Every Body Walk, Step to Health, or Psychology Today!
So, what are you waiting for? Lace up those shoes and get moving! Whether you choose a leisurely solo stroll in the park, to grab some friends for an urban hike and gossip adventure, or to leash up your pup for a neighborhood walk about, you’re going to be glad that you did!
Tips and Ideas
To get you started even further, here are a few ideas for keeping the drive alive:
1. Set aside a specific time each day and mark your calendar on each day that you stick to your walking routine. This visual alone will be serious motivator.
2. Create a playlist for each “type” of walk you choose. For a more intensive and heart-pounding walk, toss in some PUMP UP songs. For a mindful and tranquil stroll, create a playlist with songs that allow your mind to peacefully drift.
3. Don’t go at it alone. You can call a friend and talk to them as you stroll, start a walking challenge with someone and support each other’s efforts, grab some pals or loved ones to join you, or even join a walking club in your area!
4. Change the scenery. Don’t choose the same path, the same setting, the same route every time. Switch it up to keep your mind and body guessing!
5. Track your progress with a FitBit, pedometer, app, or another form of activity tracker. You will be surprised and proud after a while!
6. Retail therapy! Motivate yourself with a fresh and snazzy new pair of running shoes and cute walking outfit!
Kat McGrady, LCPC, June 2018