6 Ways Walking Will Put Your Mind at Ease
The mental health benefits of taking a walk are too good to gloss over.
Getting outside can be so much more than simply breaking out of your cramped cubicle or escaping from your cluttered desk. According to recent studies and local mental health professionals, we have compiled six benefits of taking a daily nature walk that will motivate you to lace up your sneakers and get moving!
1. Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Christine Lawlor, MSW, LCSW, of Lawlor Psychotherapy LLC informs us that Vitamin D is connected to energy levels. A sunny walk can help keep that pep in your step without a daily supplement.
2. Ward Off Your Worries
According to a 2015 study from Stanford University, walking on a quiet, forested path can also quiet your thoughts. Participants who walked in a wooded area showed reduced blood flow to their subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with fretting and stress.
3. Teach Your Kids Healthy Habits
Walking outside with your kids teaches them to value the natural world and their physical health, says Lawlor. Taking walks together shows that you value staying active, getting outside and spending quality time as a family.
4. Combat Anxiety
“If someone struggles with anxiety, I immediately recommend exercise,” reflects Samantha Schnell, LMHC, MS, of Chappaqua. Lawlor adds that it takes a lot of energy to be anxious, and exercise can channel that negative energy into positive energy by releasing endorphins, or happy chemicals.
5. Find a Moment of Calm
Spending time in nature can be meditative and spiritual. Lawlor recommends that people take this time to pray or reflect in solitude before they return to their busy lives.
6. Create Consistency and Fulfill Personal Goals
Scientific American asserts that consistent exercise, even for 15 minutes daily, can reduce depression. Schnell also says that creating fitness goals gives a person motivation when they are feeling down. Consistent healthy habits are the cornerstone of mental health; so if even a few minutes a day (or every other day) is all you can handle, start with that.