Walking is what your body is ergonomically designed to do and has benefits beyond the merely physical. Many people walk as much for mental and spiritual wellbeing as for fitness.
When you walk at a pace that raises your heart rate it makes your brain release endorphins – these are your body’s natural happy chemicals. Walking outdoors enables you to get away from stressors, to clear your head and it enhances your creativity. Taking the time to go outdoors each day for a 20 minute walk enables you to get out of a stressful environment, breathe in fresh air, and feel your body move – all great ways to achieve natural stress-relief.
During the day your muscles become tense and stiff through postural repetitions, habits and stressful situations like sitting in the traffic or dealing with a difficult person. By going for a 20 minute walk each day you correct your posture and move your muscles and this can help to unwind those muscular knots. You can use your walk as an opportunity to practice mindfulness meditation by observing nature; the trees, flowers, birds, gardens, sky, etc. Practice being fully present and in the moment by taking in all of the surroundings and noticing the details by engaging all of your senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, or by simply focusing entirely on the sole of the foot. Practice walking mindfully by taking note of each foot strike and observing with curiosity how the foot lands, the length of a stride, where you feel the most pressure on the foot – in the ball or in the heel, how your toes feel as you take each step, whether the feet turn slightly in or out, etc. It is important to simply observe in a totally non-judgmental way otherwise you can become distracted by little flaws in your walk!
Will you make the time each day to go for a walk? To remind you to go for a walk stick a post-it note up in your home or office or on your computer screen that says:
‘Motion Affects Emotion’
Walking is good for your physical and mental wellbeing. Movement in the body brings movement in the mind – it’s a natural alchemy.