The benefits of walking for mental and physical health
You may not realize that walking has many benefits on your life. Walking can make your body feel better both mentally and physically. Pay close attention to how you feel next time you are taking a walk no matter what the distance may be. I will be explaining the mental and physical benefits of walking along with the benefits of walking a dog.
I walk my dog, Lydia, first thing in the morning to start my day off and get my blood pumping, and will walk her at least three more times during the day. Each time I walk Lydia we will walk for 10-15 minutes. We also enjoy walking on Saline County’s walking trails. However, when we don’t have time to do the trails we enjoy strolling around the apartment complexes and on the golf course.
Mental Health Benefits
According to a study done by a Southern California University professor showed that the more you walk the more energetic you feel and the better their mood. “We found there was a clear and strong relationship between the number of steps they (test subjects) took and their overall mood and energy” said Robert Thayer, a professor of psychology at CSU, Long Beach.
Taking walks has also been proven to reduce stress by releasing endorphins (good-feeling neurotransmitters) and can act as a meditating technique to help you forget about your rough day.
Nadine Kaslow, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, also found that owning a pet can help you meet new people. I met one of my best friends by starting a conversation about our dogs and took our dogs to the dog park weekly.
Physical Health Benefits
Walking is an easy, and free, way to loose weight, burn belly fat and calories. It can improve joint and muscular pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also increases muscle strength, endurance, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Below is an image from the Haven Pharmacy that covers 20 benefits for walking 30 minutes per day.
To get the full benefits of your walk, Better Health suggests that you take a brisk walk for 30 minutes each day. A “brisk” walk means that you can still talk but may be puffing slightly. Walking has little health risk but it is suggested that you talk to your doctor if you have any health complications.
I enjoy walking Lydia and since owning her I have found myself to be in a healthier place, both mentally and physically. On days where I don’t want to get out she is a good, sometimes annoying, reason to get up and get active. When I have a lot on my mind I will take her to the hiking trails to get my mind off of my stressors.
If you don’t have a pet to take on a walk you can volunteer at your local animal shelter. Shelters are always looking for volunteers to spend time with the animals and take dogs on walks. Here is a list of no-kill animal shelters in Arkansas.