Many of us probably shun the thought of extra walking instead of driving or commuting to our destinations. I understand. When we get out of work feeling stressed and mentally exhausted, all we want to do is fall flat on our beds the moment we get out of the office.
You should think twice. Scientists fervently remind us of the many benefits of walking for our mood as much as for our health. Whether it’s to boost your everyday happiness or to stay healthy, the challenge is the same: overcoming the urge to slack. So to spur myself, I think of these little things to get me up and walking!
Get Up and Walk Your Way to Greater Health and Happiness
Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.
— Søren Kierkegaard
1. Walking more extends your life
Sitting is the new smoking. We’re more compelled to sit for long periods because of the tons of paperwork and increasingly computer-based tasks of our jobs. Even our efforts to be active after work or on the weekends might prove futile, as experts are finding that even three-to-four hours of sitting is already cutting our lives shorter. However, those who fall into this lifestyle category shouldn’t lose hope just yet. A recent study found that moving every 30 minutes can lessen the health hazards. Thus, if we can at least walk during our “mini-breaks,” we’re extending our lives.
2. Walking is a form of meditation
Walking relaxes your mind, releasing all the stress incurred over the day. As I walk, the pressure diffuses and I begin to think about things more clearly. Chances are when I get home, chores, problems and pending tasks would eat up my free time. But with walking, I have all the time to recall events, consider options, come up with alternatives, solve problems, etc. By the time I get home, I’ve already unwound and am ready to take on other responsibilities.
Some other major perks of walking to or from work or school? You can save on transportation fares and gas money and help out the environment by not taking any vehicles. I walk the extra mile as much as I can and whenever I can. Having a walking buddy makes this form of exercise even more fun and enjoyable.
3. You can appreciate nature more
I can still vividly recall a time when I was walking to my part-time job on a cool afternoon. Had I done otherwise, I wouldn’t have savored one of the most breathtaking sunsets I’ve ever seen. I was in an urban area, and scenes like that don’t happen very often. Imagine the little surprises we can enjoy and relish when we make time to stroll. That wonderful tableau made me wish to see more every day, so ditching the car and public transportation whenever possible has become my new hobby.
Looking at the refreshingly green foliage I pass by reduces stress and relieves eye strain due to long hours of work facing the computer. There are plants at work that help to alleviate exhaustion, but they’re still no match for the trees and other foliage we can feast our eyes on outdoors. When we’re on the road, we’re either focused on the road or see the trees disappear in just a matter of seconds.
4. You get to enjoy the power of sunlight
Nothing delights me more than a good dose of vitamin D in the morning. After basking in the early morning sun, I get energized. With the bright sunlight, I feel happy and content. Thankfully, it only takes a 20-minute walk to get from my house to my workplace, so that’s plenty of exposure to the precious sunshine. But even when I don’t get to get up early, I drink coffee on the front porch, enjoying the sunny sensation only nature can give.
Researchers have seen a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression, due to the former’s serotonin-inducing capability. It also boosts our immune system and strengthens our bones. Of course, those are just a few of the freebies the sun gives us, but if happiness is our daily goal, you should shower yourself with sunlight by walking to work or school whenever possible.
5. Sweating detoxifies your body
After sitting in an office for eight hours or more, we need to detoxify ourselves, and the easiest and most natural way is through sweating. Not only will it detoxify your body, it will detoxify your mood too.
If it’s true that sitting for eight hours every day is killing us softly, I can only imagine what’s happening inside the body. That’s why I’ve made it a personal commitment to go for a little stroll in nearby parks after every shift. I try to get as much walking in as I possibly can so I can sweat out all the toxins I’ve built up during the day. (I always bring extra clothes with me, of course — we don’t want to be all sweaty and stinky in our workplace!)
6. You don’t need to walk alone
There are communities that encourage people in their neighborhoods to make walking at least 30 minutes a day a habit. Some companies urge their customers and employees to make walking a part of any lifestyle, and others even develop wellness programs ensuring everyone walks the walk.
You don’t need to be alone when you walk. With more and more people joining the craze, it won’t be difficult to find a walking buddy at work or in your neighborhood. With this, walking can make you happier through socialization and laughter. Spending time with other enthusiasts fosters bonds of friendship and other relationships.
For the love of ourselves
The tides of time have changed the face of the workplace, but the sedentary lifestyle these contemporary jobs entail is taking its toll on our well-being. Stress has become more ubiquitous than ever. Lifestyle diseases are becoming rampant. Fortunately, we can thwart the onset of these 21st-century killers by opting for one of the most powerful preventive measures out there: the love of walking.