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Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed? If so, you're not alone. According to the American Institute of Stress, 80% of workers report experiencing job-related stress, with nearly half of them wanting to have stress management routines.
The truth is not one of us is immune to stress, which is defined by the World Health Organization as “a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives.” Stress is prevalent and, if not managed properly, can eventually take a toll on both our mental and physical health.
You can alleviate your stress levels in various ways, including something as simple as walking. With that said, let’s explore how walking can help ease stress and learn some different walking workouts that you can do today. Additionally, learn how you can integrate walking into your daily routine.
How Walking Reduces Stress
Walking as an exercise is easy and simple to do. You can perform it anytime and anywhere, allowing you to effortlessly add it to your daily life.
Citing research, the North Dakota State University explains that the stress-relieving benefit of walking stems from the fact that your body releases the feel-good and mood-boosting endorphins when you walk, be it fast-paced or just a simple stroll. In addition, according to "Knowledge Doc" Dr. Eric Berg, DC, this low-stress exercise has been found to reduce the levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol.
Apart from helping reduce stress, other known benefits of walking include:
- Enhanced Sleep: Sleep quality is essential to your well-being. However, stress may prevent you from getting some good night’s sleep. Walking can help improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation.
- Improved Heart Health and Blood Pressure Levels: According to a study, three 10-minute walks per day are better for preventing future blood pressure spikes than a 30-minute trek per day.
- Weight Loss: Walking can help burn calories and aid in weight loss, says Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, author of “The Doctor on Demand Diet.” When combined with a healthy diet, you may achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Improved Cognitive Function: Studies have shown that walking can enhance memory and attention as well as promote mental clarity and focus.
Do Some Warm-Ups
Are you ready to make regular walking part of your workout routine? But don’t forget to do some warm-up exercises first to prevent injury, increase your performance, and prepare your body. For your walking workouts, you can do some stretching, walking lunges, leg swings, arm circles, and ankle circles.
Warming up should be done gradually and gently. Remember to take time to listen to your body during your exercise, ensuring that you make adjustments as needed.
Types of Walking Exercises
- Begin walking at a comfortable pace.
- Gradually increase your speed until you're walking at a brisk pace.
- Maintain your brisk pace for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Gradually decrease your speed to cool down.
- With brisk walking, you’re walking faster than normal, typically at a pace of 3-4 miles per hour.
- Swing your arms naturally to help maintain your pace.
- Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support.
- Brisk walking increases cardiovascular health.
- It helps burn calories and reduce body fat.
- It helps clear your mind and improve your endurance.
- Choose a hill or incline to walk up.
- Walk at a safe pace up the hill.
- Keep your pace as you climb the hill.
- Once you arrive at the top, walk back down to complete your routine.
- Use your arms to push yourself up the hill.
- You should maintain an even pace during the exercise.
- Stretch before and after the workout.
- You can start out with small inclines.
- Hill walking tones the glutes, calves, and thighs.
- It can help increase leg strength and endurance.
- It can provide a challenging workout to improve your overall fitness.
- Find stairs with at least 10 steps.
- Walk up the stairs at a moderate pace. Make sure to keep your back straight.
- Engage your core muscles to maintain your balance.
- Walk back down once you get to the top.
- Repeat several times. Consider increasing the duration of your workout as your body gets used to the exercise.
- If necessary, use the handrail to maintain your balance.
- Choose comfortable shoes with good traction to help prevent slips and falls.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on your knee or ankle.
- You can do this exercise at a nearby park or stadium, or your home or office building.
- This exercise is a form of intense cardiovascular workout.
- It helps strengthen your legs and glutes.
- Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which is good for your bone health.
- Start walking at a relaxed pace.
- Start brisk walking for 1-2 minutes.
- Go back to your comfortable walking pace. Walk at this pace for 1-2 minutes.
- Repeat for at least 20-30 minutes.
- Use a timer or stopwatch to monitor your intervals.
- Start your workout with a warm-up exercise.
- As your body adjusts to the workout, slowly increase the duration of your intervals.
- This exercise is good for your heart health.
- Do this exercise if you want to burn calories and increase your metabolism.
- It’s a challenging workout that adds excitement to your routine.
Walking with Weights
- Choose a set of dumbbells or other weights.
- Begin walking at a comfortable pace, holding the weights in your hands.
- Gradually increase your pace and maintain your speed for at least 10-15 minutes.
- To cool down, gradually reduce your pace.
- Always begin with a lighter weight. Gradually increase the weight as you become stronger.
- Don’t forget to engage your core and keep your shoulders relaxed throughout the exercise.
- Do some stretching exercises before you begin.
- Try to do walking lunges as part of your walk to strengthen your legs and glutes.
- It helps build muscle and strengthen bones.
- It helps burn calories and enables you to stay fit.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step forward with your right foot and roll onto the ball of your foot.
- Push off with your back foot to propel yourself forward.
- Swing your arms in a natural motion to maintain momentum.
- Repeat on the other leg.
- Walk at a brisk pace to increase cardiovascular benefits.
- Maintain good posture with your shoulders relaxed.
- Focus on your breath and try to take deep, controlled breaths.
- It burns calories and increases cardiovascular endurance.
- It tones your legs, glutes, and calves.
- It can reduce stress and improve mood.
Incorporate Walking into Your Routine
You can make walking part of your everyday routine starting today. Consider these tips to help get you started:
1. Start Slowly and Gradually Increase Intensity and Duration
This will make it easier to stick with the habit over time. Nature-based walking may be something you can do to help you relax and connect to your surroundings as well.
2. Have Measurable Goals and Monitor Your Progress
Both are vital to keeping you focused on your goals. Having practical goals that are easy to monitor can also keep you motivated and provide you with a sense of accomplishment.
3. Choose a Safe Neighborhood
Choose areas that are well lighted and with a smooth surface, making your walk a more enjoyable and worry-free experience. Another tip is to experiment with different walking speeds, intervals, or terrain to challenge yourself and prevent boredom.
4. Incorporate Mindfulness Techniques
Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization, help relax your body and bring your focus to your surroundings.
5. Schedule a Walk with a Friend or in a Group
It will make your routine a fun experience if you walk with someone who has the same fitness and health goals as you.
Walking is a simple and effective way to reduce stress and improve your overall wellness. Try integrating the tips and techniques above into your holistic stress-reduction routine. Put on your walking shoes, go outside, and let the benefits of walking improve your mental and physical health today!
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