I woke up this morning feeling a little sluggish, I have to admit. I really didn’t feel too motivated to go out for my morning walk. But I immediately realized that I was allowing my feelings to dictate what was right for me (feelings and emotions can be very deceptive). Instead, I didn’t allow my negative self-talk (“I’m too tired to exercise today”) to get the best of me, so I went and took my 30-minute walk anyway. The nice sunshine, fresh air, and brisk walk did me wonders. When I got back home I felt so much better.
As I sit here on my laptop computer writing this message, I am reminded of how important exercise is to our overall well-being and mental health. I want to encourage you to exercise too; it really does make a big difference in our moods, emotions, and healthy brain function. If you can’t go to the gym, you can it least go walking in your neighborhood or someplace else that is safe and appropriate.
Walking is therapeutic.
The gym that I go to several times a week has all kinds of machines and weights that I enjoy using. They also have Zumba, Aerobics, and other group fitness classes that are very beneficial too. However, in my case, I prefer to exercise alone and at my own pace, but of course, everybody is different. Walking in the outdoors, for me, is the best. If it happens to be raining or cold, I’ll use the gym’s treadmill machines instead.
According to the most recent scientific findings, brisk walking will help you lose weight, keep the weight off, and increase the levels of endorphins in your brain to help you think and feel better.
Endorphins act as natural sedatives, which means they have a calming effect. When you exercise, endorphins are manufactured by your body and bind themselves to neurotransmitters in your brain and nervous system to create a sense of “euphoria.” That euphoric feeling is also called a “runner’s high”, although any form of sustained exercise will produce the same effect – brisk walking, aerobics, biking, dancing, swimming, etc.
Researchers have also concluded that a simple, brisk, 30-minute walk each day is also great for losing weight and keeping it off.
How much walking should you do?
Experts agree that moderate-intensity exercise, or brisk walking, should be done for at least 30 minutes each day, 5 days a week. As you get used to this level, try to increase it to 45 minutes to an hour for greater benefits.
Other health benefits
– Elevates your self-esteem
– Decreases anxiety and depression
– Strengthens your heart
– Lowers blood pressure
– Increases lung function and oxygen to your brain
– Improves sleep
– Improves muscle tone and strength
– Prevents cognitive decline as we age
– Improves overall quality of life and increases longevity
Take it easy if you are just beginning. Start by exercising for 20 minutes. Then you can build up to 30 minutes, and so on. Your leg muscles may get sore for the first few days, but keep going until the soreness goes away and your body adjusts to your new exercise routine. In no time, you’ll be fit as a fiddle. Remember to keep your posture straight when walking.
If you have not exercised in a while, or you have a medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease, check with your doctor before starting a walking program.
You can also team up with a spouse or friend who will encourage you. Walking should be fun and having a walking buddy – who you can talk to – makes it more enjoyable.
If you remember, drop me a line and let me know how you are progressing. Good luck, and happy walking!
– Dr. L. Joseph, CPC
Health, Healing & Faith Center
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