Walking outdoors

Walking Outdoors for your Body, Mind, and Spirit.

by Heather Kallevig

Getting outside offers innumerable direct and indirect health benefits for your body. Physical fitness leads to better overall physical, mental, and emotional health. Walking is a low-risk, convenient, and cheap method for improving health. Whether you push the pavement on a city street or traverse the hills and mountains, it is recommended everyone take at least 10,000 steps per day. If you have an active lifestyle this number is easily achievable. If your work is more sedentary, you may have to schedule in the time to get your 10,000 steps. Making this a priority is important. Walking everyday provides valuable benefits for your mind, body, and spirit.

Body

The health benefits of walking has been assessed in a number of studies, finding that 10,000 steps a day can lead to better cardiovascular health, weight loss and maintenance, and stronger bones. Walking with good posture engages your entire body, including your core, legs, and arms. This is also a low-impact activity that won’t cause damage to your joints, particularly knees, hips, and ankles. When walking for exercise, try to maintain a faster pace, making the activity more aerobic will improve your cardiovascular benefits.

Mind

Walking not only improves your overall physical health, it also engages your mind. If you’re working on a project for school or work, taking a break from your computer and getting outside may boost productivity. A recent study by Stanford University found walking boosts ingenuity. Perhaps this is why many high-power CEO’s including Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs have advocated walking meetings to promote creativity. The study, found 100 percent of participants who walked outside successfully generated at least one innovative, quality idea, compared to only 50 percent of participants who were seated inside.

So next time you’re stuck on an idea, leave the desk, avoid the computer for a while, and go for a walk. Also take a notepad or recording device, so you can document your idea when it comes!

Spirit

Beyond the benefits for your body and your mind, walking outside is also a boost for the emotions. Levels of depression, fatigue, and anxiety are on the rise. Often these emotions are caused by high levels of stress, lack of exercise, traumatic life experiences, or disillusionment with a current situation. An excellent combatant for a blue mood is simple; taking time to walk outdoors. Multiple studies support the essential benefits of walking outside – individually or in a group. A study at the University of Michigan explored the benefits of a Walking for Health program in England, which sponsors over 3,000 walks each week. They found walking improved participants mental well-being and lowered perceived stress.

Similar studies explored the benefits of walking outdoors versus using a treadmill at home or in the gym. A 2013 British study found walking in green spaces promotes meditation – an important exercise for peaceful thinking and clarity. A similar study at Glasgow University in 2008 found people who exercise outside are 50% happier than those who spend their active time indoors.

Take your 10,000 steps and do it outside

Taking time to walk outside everyday is very important. The literature proves it improves the health of your body, your mind, and your spirit. Keep in mind you don’t have to take your 10,000 steps in one set. In fact, it’s best if you take shorter walks throughout the day, adding up to at least 10,000. Just make sure it’s a priority in your life – your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it.

Resources:

10,000 Steps – The Walking Site

Stanford Study finds Walking Improves Creativity – Stanford News

Taking a Walk in the Woods Could be the Best Thing You do for Your Mood All Day – Huffington Post

The Urban Brain: Analyzing Outdoor Physical Activity with Mobile EEG – NCBI

Leave a Reply