During this Coronavirus pandemic, many people have taken up walking who maybe wouldn’t have done so before. Whether they were too busy with work or children or attended a gym for their exercise before the lockdown, or for many people going for a walk without a dog would seem like a waste of time. Now, however, the whole nation is walking! Whilst it can be difficult at times like these to focus on the positives, the new increased popularity of walking is definitely one of them! Walking has multiple benefits, both physical and emotional.
Walking for just 30 minutes 5 times a week has been proven in studies in the US and Australia to reduce your blood pressure. High blood pressure puts you at greater risk of a heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, regular, brisk 30 minute walks increases lung capacity. This also strengthens the lungs. With increased lung capacity, you will breathe easier, and your lungs will stay healthier longer.
The current pandemic has made lots of think more about our immune system and how we can best support it. Exercise creates change in antibodies and white blood cells. White blood cells are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. According the Harvard Medical School, in a study of 1000 men and women, those who walked for 20 minutes per day for 5 days per week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get ill, it was for a shorter period of time and they showed milder symptoms. The other immune boosting bonus of your daily walk is Vitamin D. Deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with poor immune system function and increased susceptibility to infection. Getting out for your daily walk gives you that much needed Vitamin D exposure.
There’s no doubting that the current worldwide pandemic has caused stress levels to rise for many of us. This is to be expected but walking can really help to keep those stress levels under control. Exercise slows the release of stress hormones so walking can really benefit and improve your mental well-being. Endorphins (happy hormones) are released when we exercise to give you a lovely mental boost. Plus walking is an opportunity to get in tune with nature and a great chance for some clear thinking time. Another lovely emotional bonus is, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the scent of flowers has a calming and soothing effect.
So if you haven’t been for a walk today, get your trainers on and get out there! The benefits are endless and you are guaranteed to feel great!