When it comes to mental health and well-being we think about taking antidepressants and getting psychological help.
Both these things are good and important but there is one more thing that you can do that will change your life, lift your depression and in the long run, save you tons of money.
It is walking.
Why walking is good for mental health
Walking is good for your head. There is something about walking that clears the head. You stop worrying, your anxiety goes away and you come up with the most creative thoughts. Walking improves your mood and even the shortest walk can get you feeling better.
Apart from helping your head and your brain, walking is good for the heart. Walking gets your circulation going and blood pumping to your heart. Your heart muscle gets strengthened when you exercise your body. Walking is excellent aerobic exercise. And you know the saying – A healthy heart is a healthy mind. And the other way round.
Walking is good for your joints. It strengthens your ankles and your knees. In fact, it strengthens every part of you. Walk with your shoulders straight and your core tucked in. Walk confidently. As soon as you feel better physically, you feel better emotionally too.
How to start your walking regime
Try not to over think it and just start. If you struggle with depression, it may be hard to get out of bed in the mornings.
Wake up in the morning and instead of making yourself a coffee, walk to get your coffee. Hopefully there is a coffee shop not too far away, but either way, walk. Early morning air is fresh and delicious and an early morning walk will put you in a good mood for the day.
Plan your walking day. If you work far from home, you may need to bus or drive into work. But make sure that during the day you walk during your lunch hour. Walk to the book store and reward yourself with buying a book or the newspaper. Instead of sitting in the office canteen, get out and walk. Getting a bit of sunshine on your skin will also give you energy for the rest of the day, as will your walk. It will lift your mood. Sitting inside is unhealthy, for body and mind. Give yourself a break from the office and from work.
In the evenings, go for a dog walk. Even if you don’t have dogs. Make your way to a dog park and walk. You will meet lots of lovely puppies and dogs, maybe meet new people and enjoy the end of the day, as the sun goes down. Dogs are great therapy by the way.
Download a walking app
Most smart phones today come with a health app or a step app. Keep your phone close to your body, in a pouch or similar, and it will measure your steps, the inclines and the amount of miles or kilometers that you do. You will see that it becomes quite obsessive. Even walking around a shopping center will become a good walk. In the beginning you may do just 3 or 4 km a day, but after a while, 10 km daily becomes a breeze. Your mood will be better as you realize how active you are and how well you are doing. You will have a sense of achievement and your mental health will improve with this.
Benefits of walking for mental health
People who are in good shape are happier. It should not be that way, but it is. If you feel good about your body and the way you look, your mood lifts too.
You are going to lose weight by walking regularly. Your body will firm up and soon you will have the most shapely of legs. Remember to suck in your core while you walk and you may just end up with a six pack too. Keep your shoulders back and use your arms, for overall cardio.
Walk straight and walk often for a healthy mind.
Shake it up
If you walk the same route every day you may get bored which will not help your mood at all. Shake things up, walk in different neighborhoods and try new areas and new walks. You will feel mental health benefits by discovering new people and new things to see. Your energy levels will increase, your serotonin levels increase, and you will feel more buoyant.
By walking in different areas you will lift your mood.
Watch your sleep patterns improve
Walking will also help you sleep well. The more you exercise in the day, the better you sleep. A warm bath at night, tired muscles and watch – you will sleep like a babe. This is so important if you suffer from depression or mental illness.
Walk to help your mental health.
There are a few things to note when you walk
Ensure you are wearing comfortable footwear and that your shoes are good walking shoes. You can always change shoes when you get to work. Wear decent socks. Make sure you use sunblock. Watch where you are walking, of course. And get friends to join you on different walks. Be wise and don’t walk down dark alleys or in dodgy neighborhoods.
You see things when you walk. You think differently when you walk. Your mood lightens and anxiety disappears. You meet people. You start enjoying nature.
WALK. It will do wonders for your mood.