Walking is often considered one of the most underrated forms of exercise. In comparison, it may seem like a simple activity, but the physiological, mental, and emotional benefits of walking cannot be overstated. In fact, according to research, walking can improve our memory and attention, build new connections in our brain cells, and reduce anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, walking outdoors can decrease negative moods like depression, anxiety, anger, fatigue, and confusion and improve our self-esteem and spirit with as little as five minutes of exposure to nature.
So, why is walking so effective, and how can we make the most of it? Here are some insights into how walking can be a valuable tool for physical and mental well-being and some creative ways to incorporate walking into your daily routine.
The Benefits of Walking
Walking is a low-impact exercise that can be done almost anywhere with little preparation and no special equipment. This means that it’s an accessible form of exercise for nearly everyone. Walking can be a valuable tool if you’re looking to maintain your physical health, reduce stress, or boost your creativity.
Improved Brain Function
Walking has been shown to improve brain function in several ways. According to research, walking can boost memory and attention, build connections in our brain cells, and help generate new ideas and insights.
Physical activity, including walking, has been shown to improve sleep quality. A single bout of moderate-to-vigorous activity (including walking) can improve our sleep, thinking, and learning.
Reduced Symptoms of Anxiety
Walking can also help reduce symptoms of anxiety. According to research, a single bout of moderate-to-vigorous activity (including walking) can reduce anxiety symptoms.
Walking outdoors has been shown to improve self-esteem and mood in just five minutes of exposure to nature. Exposure to nature helps us switch from voluntary attention, which draws on our reserves of focus and energy, to involuntary attention, which requires less focus and energy. This allows us to recover from mental fatigue.
Walking has been a powerful tool for creative inspiration for centuries. Many famous artists, writers, and philosophers, including Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, William Wordsworth, and Aristotle, have used walking to generate ideas.
Creative Ways to Incorporate Walking into Your Daily Routine
If you’re looking to incorporate more walking into your daily routine, here are some creative ways to do it:
Walk for Perspective
When you need some perspective, stroll while looking at the sun, the trees, or the water. Those views remind us to reflect on the universe’s expanse, appreciate nature’s beauty, and consider how much the world remains to explore.
Walk for Connection
Walking doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. Invite a friend or family member to join you in person or over the phone when the meeting is impossible. Walking with someone can help us connect and bond with others.
Walk for Learning
While walking, listen to a podcast or an audiobook, or even the recording of a webinar you signed up for but couldn’t attend. Take photos of trees or animals you can’t identify and look them up when you get home.
Walk for Gratitude
Focus on feeling grateful for being able to walk, being pain-free, feeling safe, or having a clean, hot shower waiting for you at home. It’s a powerful way to cultivate a positive mindset and increase feelings of well-being.
Walk for Productivity
Schedule a coaching or networking call with a client who is also walking. Dictate brainstorming ideas or a new article into your phone’s voice recorder while walking.
Ultimately, walking is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do for yourself. It’s an accessible and low-impact exercise.