The Benefits of Walking 

Benefits of walking
The past few months in Melbourne has been challenging and has not been typical life as we know it. We’re not currently living our ‘busy’ lifestyles or have access to our typical coping strategies such as going to the gym or seeing friends and family. Life in lockdown has been a bumpy roller coaster, so we want to focus on how the couple of hours of exercise/walking that we’re allowed has been our escape and form of sanity over the last few months.
According to the Australian Government Department of Health, it is recommended that adults aged between 18-64 years accumulate 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Walking for just 30 minutes a day easily meets this target.
Going for a walk each day has been found to have many physical and psychological benefits.

Physical benefits

  • Increases exercise capacity and fitness levels
  • Improves cardiac health, which is important for insulin sensitivity and the reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Increases maximum oxygen consumption, meaning more oxygen will be consumed and delivered to the muscles. This results in us having more energy, which will help us walk and run faster and participate in activities without tiring quickly
  • Strengthens bones and muscles, helping to tone the body and maintain a healthy weight

Psychological benefits

  • Improves mood, promoting the release of ‘feel-good’ chemicals into our brain, such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin.
  • Alleviates stress
  • Decreases brain fog, helping you to focus and be productive

What is dopamine, endorphins and serotonin and why are they important?

  • Dopamine is the reward chemical. It is released when we walk, exercise, complete a  task, participate in self care activities and celebrate little wins.
  • Endorphins are the pain killer chemical. It is released when we walk, exercise, laugh and do something that makes us happy.
  • Serotonin is the mood stabilizer. It is released when we walk, exercise, feel the sunshine and relax in nature.

Looking for ways to make your daily walk more interesting? Here are some tips:

  • Walk with a friend if they live within your 5km, and don’t forget your face mask
  • Walk whilst listening to your favourite music. We love listening to the ‘CHILL’ by Em Carey and ‘Todays top hits’ on Spotify!
  • Walk whilst listening to your favourite podcasts. We love listening to ‘On Purpose with Jay Shetty’, ‘Shameless’, ‘All in the mind’, ‘Stuff you should know’ and ‘Listen Able’ podcasts on Apple podcasts or Spotify!
  • Use the time on your walks to give a friend or family member a call
  • Explore new streets and paths within your 5km
  • Time each of your walks using the app ‘Strava’ and aim to beat your time and km’s each week. You can also follow your friends on Strava to keep track of their walks if you can’t walk together right now.
Next time you’re thinking about whether to go for your daily walk, we hope you think of the many benefits of doing so.  Ensure you take advantage of those two hours of outdoor activity whilst staying within your 5km and wearing your mask. If you’d like more details on the benefits of walking, the links to the sources are down below!
We are currently holding a Walk for Wellbeing Challenge. During Melbourne’s daily 2 hours of outdoor activity, we are challenging you to commit to walking as many kilometres as you can in the month of October to help us raise money to improve the wellbeing of young people living with cancer.
To join in on the second half of the challenge or keep up to date with the team’s progress or donate click here.
Happy walking!

REFERENCES

  • https://iaap-journals-onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ez.library.latrobe.edu.au/doi/full/10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01051.x

  • https://iaap-journals-onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ez.library.latrobe.edu.au/doi/full/10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01051.x

  • https://medium.com/in-fitness-and-in-health/why-walking-for-exercise-is-incredible-for-your-health-cfa8df5b8ac7

  • https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#npa1864

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