Walking: Improve Your Mental and Physical Health

By Amanda Roland
shoes walking on a path

National Take a Walk in the Park Day is March 30! Looking for an easy way to improve your mental and physical health? Try walking! We have some tips for getting the most out of your daily walks.

What time of day?

First, it is worth saying that there is no bad time to fit in a walk! Not only can walking benefit your physical health but it can better your mental health, too, by helping you clear your head and get fresh air. So, at the end of the day, you should walk whenever your body is ready for a walk, which could be at any point throughout the day.

However, some research suggests that working out in the morning before breakfast can help you burn more body fat throughout the day, according to a study published by EBioMedicine. So, if you are looking for a way to shed a few pounds, consider knocking out a 30-minute walk before breakfast!

Where to walk?

If possible, it is best to walk outside in the open air to reap the benefits of the fresh air, sunshine and natural surroundings. Did you know that getting fresh air outside can increase brain function, growth and healing?

“The brain is extremely sensitive to decreases in oxygen levels,” according to Advanced Neurotherapy. “Therefore when a person takes a walk outside, getting to breathe fresh outdoor air actually improves brain function, especially if a person is cooped up in an once most of the day.” Also, vitamin D from the sun works to protect the neurons in the brain and reduce in inflammation, so just getting 10 minutes of sunlight on your lunchtime walk can do the body and brain good!

What shoes?

Our feet do a lot of heavy lifting, and if you are going for a walk, it is best to wear shoes that will support brisk movement. For example, if you dress business casual for work, you definitely shouldn’t try braving a 30-minute walk in heels or loafers. Keep a pair of comfortable sneakers in your desk drawer or in your car so you can slip them on when you need to stretch your legs. Being prepared with shoes will also make you more apt to go on a daily walk knowing you will be comfortable.

Did you know that walking shoes are very different from running shoes? Runners need a lot of heel support and stability to brace for impact with every stride. However, walking puts much less stress on the foot, so something a little more flexible and lightweight should be perfect. If you are unsure of which shoe is best, visit your local fitness shoe store for guidance!

Add the arms!

If you want to up the ante with your daily walks, try adding in some arm movement to increase circulation and coordination. Pumping your arms back and forth with each stride is a great way to get the whole body involved. You can even carry some small hand weights (or cans of soup) while you pump your arm to feel more of a burn!

Don’t forget to wear a daily SPF to protect your skin when in the sun!