Although simple, walking has tons of health benefits, both physical and mental. A daily walk is associated with cardiovascular health benefits and weight loss, and if done consistently, walking can improve your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and slow bone decay.
Walking is also an accessible mental-health tool that we can all employ. Walking has been shown to relieve stress and increase mindfulness if done in an intentional way, and can even help treat symptoms of depression and anxiety. Of course, walking can always be done on a treadmill or an indoor track, but if the weather permits where you live, bundle up and get outside for some fresh air. Giving yourself the time to take a stroll and absorb your surroundings — even if it’s just for a few minutes each day — can do wonders for your mental health.
- Walking workout 1: 20-minute slow walk. Get moving and focus on breathing, form and clearing your head. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pump your arms as you walk. Step one foot in front of the other mindfully, pressing down with your full foot and being cognizant of not walking on your toes or striking too hard with your heel. If you’re feeling bored with this, try taking a different route or finding an inclined surface to vary your routine. But make sure to keep it simple and focus on your breathing.
- Walking workout 2: 20-minute speed-it-up walk. We’ll speed things up slowly and mindfully. First, clock yourself at a normal pace for 4 minutes. Then speed up and walk briskly for 4 minutes. Alternate for 20 minutes total. If this starts to get easy, quicken your pace or increase the amount of time you spend walking briskly. Or, if you don’t like keeping track of time, keep track by blocks or mileage. After 4 blocks of regular pacing, speed up for 4 blocks.
Mental health weekly challenge
Contrary to popular belief, physical and mental health are not completely separate entities. Moving more can help improve your mood and decrease your risk of depression, according to Harvard Medical School. And you can give this benefit an even bigger boost by purposefully engaging in mental health exercises while you move your body.
Below are some simple ways to shift your mindset and de-stress during your daily walking workouts.
- Pick a one-word mantra and spend time focusing on it during your walk. It could be something like PEACE, STRENGTH or RELAXATION.
- Pick a natural element, like the sun, trees or the wind, and whenever your mind starts stressing and wandering, bring yourself back to that element.
- Listen to a positive podcast while on your walk. This could be about creating a positive mindset or about any topic that makes you happy.
- Take a break during your walk to take some deep breaths while stretching. Focus on the inhale and exhale, letting any thoughts that’s come to mind simply pass through.
Strength training routine
After two weeks of doing the walking workouts, we’re going to add in strength training a few days…