Exercise is one of the fundamental things that you need to do to live a long, happy, healthy life. It increases your lung capacity allowing oxygen to flow freely around your body to all the vital organs. Exercise encourages the elimination of toxins, releases happiness hormones and reduces anxiety and stress. Why then is it so difficult to motivate ourselves to do it?! One of the reasons, perhaps, is the connotation of the word ‘exercise’. Does it conjure up bad memories? Perhaps being in a class and being pushed too hard, going for a run and feeling humiliated by your lack of endurance, or just the belief that exercise feels uncomfortable and hard? One of the main things to do, when it comes to exercise is to find something that is enjoyable to you. If it helps motivation and feel-good factor, exercise with a friend. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Don’t make it into such a big deal. Start with something gentle. Start with a walk. Walking daily, whether to work, or on a specific route in nature, can have enormous benefits for your health and wellbeing. Here’s why:
Walking releases happy hormones
If you want to get maximum benefit from a daily walk, walk in the morning. Cortisol (the hormone related to stress) is at its highest in the morning. If you were to be tested for cortisol levels, it’s likely you would be tested in the morning. It is known to peak around 7am. This may go part way to explaining why, after a blissful night’s sleep, you still wake up with unexplained anxiety about the day ahead. Going for a walk, as part of your morning routine, will reduce cortisol helping you to feel more balanced and relaxed throughout the day. It will shake off any feelings of unease. Walking will also release endorphins and serotonin, both of which are responsible for feeling happy, confident and alert. The extra intake of oxygen a walk will provide also increases mental focus and energy levels.
Your whole body benefits
Walking improves your skeletal system. It keeps your joints and muscles oxygenated and supple. In some ways, it can be more supportive to the body than running; the low impact is less stressful to your bones and joints. If you work up to a brisk walk, you can burn as many calories as you would from running! Walking builds muscle strength. This supports your skeletal system, which protects your vital organs. Misalignment in your skeletal system can cause difficulties in organ function. It can also cause stresses on particular body parts if they are required to overcompensate.
Walking reduces the risk of disease
Increasing your lung capacity, via daily exercise, improves your cardiovascular system, strengthens your heart and lungs and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also boosts the lymphatic system so that your body eliminates toxins more effectively. The heart has a pump, which enables it to distribute blood around your body. The lymphatic system, however, only shifts into action as you do. It is the expansion and contraction of your muscles that gets the lymphatic system going. Muscular movement is essential for ridding your body of toxic waste. If you do not filter the toxins from your body, your system can become sluggish and blockages can occur. This can create illness, and serious disease. As you break a sweat, more toxins are expelled.
You can tone your whole body
If you are mindful of your posture as you walk, pulling in your stomach and allowing yourself to be supported by your abdominal muscles rather than your lower back, walking will tone your whole body.
It improves sleep
A walk will increase your energy throughout the day and promote restful sleep at night. This is for several reasons. Firstly, the more energy that is burnt during the day, the more likely your body and mind will feel naturally tired at night. Walking in the daylight also helps to regulate your natural circadian rhythm, stabilizing regular sleeping patterns. Walking in nature stills the mind as it requires little stimulation. Walking when it’s quiet and cool can also be a good sleep promoter. Being in the open air, and the intake of fresh oxygen will also aid sleep.
Walking is practical and inexpensive
Taking a walk is simple, cheap and gentle. If you can, walk to work (or some of the way), take a walk during your lunch break, incorporate a walk into the early part of your day, or walk in the beauty of the sunset. Listen to music if it motivates you. Varying the gradients of your walks will also promote body tone, flexibility, weight loss and healthier functioning of the vital organs. Walking uphill will be a stronger work out, and where you can, take the stairs!