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Stepping In The Right Direction

Spring is beginning to bloom all around us! With the budding greenery and blossoming flowers

do you feel the outdoors are beckoning you? One way to get out and enjoy the fresh air of spring is by walking! No matter how old or young you are, walking is an amazing activity.

What are the benefits?

Improves mood! Walking helps release the bodies feel good chemicals –endorphins. These chemicals reduce stress and anxiety. While moving at a brisk pace may increase this effect more than a slower pace, an improvement in mood still occurs no matter what speed!

Enhances mental sharpness! Countless studies have shown that walking improves cognitive function, especially in older adults. In fact, walking in this population has been shown to contribute to reduced age-related shrinkage of the area of the brain which processes memory and emotions! So, walking serves as a brain saver!

Increases circulation! As muscles contract and relax, they squeeze around the large veins in the legs, promoting increased circulation and movement. This brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart system. This circulatory benefit also positively affects the cartilage in joints. Did you know that most joint cartilage has no direct blood supply? Cartilage gets its nutrition from joint fluid that circulates as we move. Movement and compression from walking “gently squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients to these areas too!

Strengthens bones and muscles! Walking places weight through the bones. The stress from each step nudges bone forming cells into action. This creates denser and stronger bones. But the building does not stop there! Each step forward requires the action and power of several muscles. So each stride builds more robust musculature!

Improves sleep! The improvement in mood and mental well-being that comes with walking can ease of the task of falling and then staying asleep. Walking is also known to increase the quantity of slow wave sleep. Slow wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate. Therefore, walking can also better sleep quality.

So how do you start?

The factors to consider may be overwhelming. Questions may mount: how quickly, how long, how far, how safe, and how capable? All these answers will be unique and dependent upon the individual. So set yourself on the road to success and schedule a consult with a local movement professional – like your neighborhood physiotherapist. Let’s get moving this spring!


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