The Magic of Walking

The Magic of Walking

Walking can improve sleep, increase energy, and improve the overall quality of your life. “Quality of life” refers to how your health, sense of satisfaction with life, and overall sense of well-being impacts your daily life.

We know that people who are physically active enjoy better health. But did you know that physically active people report feeling better about themselves and have a more positive outlook on life?

Walking Promotes Mental Health

Various types of exercise, including walking, have also been found to promote mental health. They do this by boosting energy, improving sleep, relieving tension and stress, and combating anxiety and depression. Mastering a walking program can give you the true sense of accomplishment that comes from doing something good for your body.

A few years ago, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) convened a panel to weigh the benefits of exercise on mental health. The panel noted a proven link between physical fitness, mental health and well-being.

Walking Boosts Energy

Many people suffer from a type of chronic fatigue that isn’t caused by illness or disease. They endure the blahs during the day and then toss and turn at night, only to wake up the next morning feeling groggy and drained. These folks might be surprised to learn that a great way to increase daytime energy levels is to spend it by walking.

Mindfulness in Action

In a recent study conducted at the Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, aerobic exercise, including fast walking, was found to combat chronic fatigue in 400 men and women who were initially out of shape. During the study, they boosted their physical fitness over a two-and-a-half year period.

Through routine aerobic exercise, the study participants increased their physical fitness, which improved their self-esteem. They felt better about themselves and developed a more optimistic, energetic frame of mind.

In addition, the exercisers enhanced the strength and endurance of their muscles and developed the ability to move more efficiently, thus making their daily activities easier to perform.

Exercise may increase awareness by improving circulation and increasing the availability of oxygen to the brain. Increased alertness may also be a side benefit of the raised metabolic rate that occurs during and after exercise. Exercise also causes the body to produce several chemicals, including adrenaline, which further promote mental alertness.

Walking Improves Sleep

Walking can also boost your daytime energy levels by helping you sleep longer and sounder at night. When the President’s Council on Physical Fitness asked seven medical experts to ra­te the sleep-promoting abilities of physical activities, walking beat out many popular sports, such as handball, squash, basketball, calisthenics, tennis, downhill skiing, softball, golf, and bowling.

The only activities that garnered better ratings than walking were jogging, swimming, bicycling, skating, and cross-country skiing. Not too shabby.

Some people do find, however, that performing intense exercise just before bedtime revs them up. If you intend to walk at a brisk pace, you may need to schedule your walks for at least an hour before you hit the sack. On the other hand, an easy-paced, late night stroll may be just the thing to relax your body and clear your mind so you can fall asleep.

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