Mental Health Benefits Of Walking

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Mental Health Benefits Of Walking

Exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your body. Not only does exercise make you feel better, but it also has major health benefits- both for your physical health and your mental health.

Luckily, you do not need to spend tons of money on expensive equipment or a gym membership in order to reap the rewards of exercise. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise – and you can do it anywhere, at any time.

Mental health professionals incorporate regular exercise to aid in the therapeutic process. They support the mental health benefits of walking in treating mental health disorders. Therapists see the value in combining both physical and mental health the therapy.

Poor physical health can lead to poor mental health. Incorporating regular exercise in therapy prevents the worsening of symptoms. It also aids in the prevention of resulting medical consequences.

It used to be the case that doctors focused on treating ailments after a patient was already ill or injured. Today, health professionals focus on preventative healthcare and the lifestyle changes that people can make to ensure they do not become sick. Exercise is an excellent part of a healthy lifestyle that you can include in your routine currently, to ensure good health down the road.

You do not need to invest much time into walking. Studies have shown that 30 minutes of vigorous walking each day can provide major mental health benefits.

If you feel your heart beating quickly and you are breathing heavier than usual, you are walking at a good pace. Keep it up for 30 minutes each day and you will see positive results, like:

  • Easing symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Feeling less stressed or overwhelmed
  • Easing mental health symptoms by maintaining healthy heart function and relieving muscle tension
  • Improving overall mental health and wellness by letting your mind wander freely
  • Reducing isolating feelings by interacting with the people and environment around you

Walking Improves Heart Health

Many mental health conditions will have an effect on heart health. Conditions like anxiety, stress and depression will all affect how the heart functions. They interrupt breathing patterns and create unhealthy coping mechanisms, like stress eating and substance use.

When your heart is not functioning properly, your muscles do not get sufficient oxygen. This worsens muscle tension and puts you at risk of panic attacks, heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

One of the top benefits of walking is an increase in the wellness of your cardiovascular system. Your heart becomes stronger. You are less prone to heart disease. Walking can even reverse the effects of coronary heart disease. Walking can decrease the plaque in your arteries, making you less prone to having a heart attack. This will prevent a great deal of stress and anxiety in your future.

Walking Helps Treat Chronic Health Conditions

For those with chronic health conditions, walking can play a major part in treatment. Living with chronic health conditions is not easy. Many people with chronic illness not only suffer from their illness, but also the mental health consequences that come as a result.

Conditions like anger, depression, anxiety, PTSD and insomnia can all occur as a result of chronic health conditions. Walking can help prevent chronic health conditions from getting worse, and in some cases may even help to reduce the symptoms of these conditions.

If the physical symptoms of chronic health conditions are maintained, then the mental health symptoms will also be maintained. For people with high blood pressure, walking 30 minutes each day can reduce your blood pressure to healthy levels.

Walking Maintains Healthy Blood Sugar

Walking maintains healthy blood sugar levels, which promotes a healthy brain. The brain uses glucose for different areas of functioning. By maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, the brain is better able to maintain healthy, balanced functioning in the following areas:

  • Judgment and decision making
  • Memory
  • Emotional regulation
  • Appropriate behavior

Walking is also helpful in reducing your risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes and weight-related mental health issues. For those with diabetes, or those struggling with obesity and weight management issues, walking on a regular basis can help you to maintain a regular blood sugar level. It can also reduce symptoms of stress, which also helps to maintain healthy blood sugar.

Walking Stops Sugar Cravings

Studies have shown that walking on a regular basis can stop cravings for sugar. Many people have cravings for sugar for different reasons, like:

  • To cope with stress
  • To cope with uncomfortable feelings
  • For an energy boost
  • While struggling with binge eating disorder or other eating disorders

Giving into sugar cravings can increase our blood sugar levels and put us at risk for mental health consequences previously mentioned in this article. When you get the urge to eat a sweet treat, go for a brief walk instead to see if it stops the craving. Your body will thank you.

Walking Helps You Feel Good

Emotional and mental health maintenance is important, too. Those people who choose to get outside and walk feel better about themselves. Exercise releases endorphins in the body, which help you to feel good. People often report feeling better and more invigorated after exercising.

Walking with a friend can help increase your interpersonal relationships and also give you motivation to exercise more regularly. Overall, people tend to feel better, physically and mentally, when they get out and walk.

TIP: How To Make Walking Fun!

There are many ways to make walking interesting. You can bring your dog for its regular walk. Walking with friends is always an enjoyable experience. Walk somewhere you have never been before, like a nature reserve, a park, the woods, a beach, or some other place.

Walking is the perfect opportunity to get in touch with nature. Or, stay in your own neighborhood and do laps around your block. Pick different routes to keep things interesting. Be sure to look around you as you walk, checking out the people and things you see, the sounds, smells, and more.

Many communities offer walking clubs, where you can get together with other like-minded people. It is fun to meet up with others on a regular basis and walk together in new areas.

Walking is an inexpensive and low-impact way to get your body in shape, lose weight, and build endurance and stamina. Remember to invest in a good pair of walking shoes and some athletic wear. This will help you be comfortable when you go for a walk.

Walking has many health benefits, so go outside and enjoy a walk today.

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