What Walking Can Do for Better Mental Health
Exercise is not everyone’s cup of tea. You may not enjoy exercising, or it can be difficult to find the time to fit it into your schedule. It’s important to prioritize physical activity, not just for physical health but also for mental health. If you struggle to find enough time or the willpower to work out, try walking. Growing evidence proves walking can have significant benefits for mental health.
The Mental Health Benefits of Walking
There are many ways walking can benefit mental health. One is simply that all types of exercise are good for the mind. Physical activity is proven to be good for mental health in several ways:
- Exercise boosts mood. In fact, it can improve your mood after just a few minutes.
- Studies have even found that exercise can be as effective in managing depression as medications.
- Being physically active helps to ease anxiety and reduce stress.
- Exercise helps you sleep better, which is essential for good mental health.
Don’t assume that just because walking isn’t as intense as other types of exercise that it isn’t beneficial. Any type of exercise can give you these benefits, including walking. You can get all the mental health benefits of exercise from walking regularly.
Walking may even have additional benefits. Being outside in nature and exposed to daylight can further boost mood and improve your natural sleep cycle. Leave your phone at home, and walking provides an opportunity to disconnect from technology, another great way to destress. You can even meditate while walking.
How to Fit More Walking Into Your Day
Knowing the benefits of walking and actually getting it done are two different things. Use these tips and strategies to walk more:
- Get a fitness tracker. A watch or app that tracks your movement can be motivating. Set step goals for each day. This can be the push you need to get out the door more often.
- Buy quality shoes. You won’t want to walk if you’re not comfortable. Go to a fitness store for a fitting. The staff will know how to select the right pair of shoes for your needs.
- Fit walking in throughout the day. The benefits of walking are not limited to the 30 minutes you set aside in the morning. Any additional steps you can add to your day will help. Park at the back of a parking lot, use the stairs at work, get up from your desk for short walk breaks, or even have walking meetings.
- Make it social. Combine social time with a walk to kill 2 birds with one stone. Both are good for mental health, and having accountability will get you walking more. It will also benefit your sleep. A study from 2017 found that walking and socializing significantly reduced insomnia.
- Rescue a walking buddy. Friends are great for encouraging more walks, but so are pets. If you can, consider rescuing a dog. With the responsibility of a dog, you can’t use excuses like cold weather not to walk.
Exercise in any form is good for your mental health, and walking is ideal in many ways. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t require a gym membership. All you need is a sturdy pair of shoes. Walking doesn’t require special skills, and it’s easy on the joints. If you’re not into working out, try walking to boost your mental and physical health.
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