Six Unique Benefits of Trail Walking
While we all know walking is good for us, did you know that walking a trail is even better? In fact, according to the National Park Service, "hiking is proven to have many health benefits, ranging from physical exercise you get when out on the trail, to emotional or mental relief that comes from being in nature."
As a long-time athlete, I had often thought walking seemed too easy to be beneficial for the body. Well, now that I'm 64 I am singing a different tune (anyone else singing this Beatles song after reading that age?!). I finally understand how walking can be excellent for our bodies. Why? Because I am actually doing it and it makes everything better!
Recently, I have been reading Built to Move : The Ten Essential Habits to Help You Move Freely and Live Fully by Dr. Kelly Starrett and Juliet Starrett. Dr. Kelly is the author of two other best selling books, cofounder of The Ready State, and the cofounder of San Francisco CrossFit. He works with a wide variety of corporations regarding the health and wellbeing of their employees as well as all sorts of athletes and coaches from the professional sports, to the US Olympic Team and the armed services., elite Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard forces, and consults with corporations on employee health and wellbeing. He lives in California. Juliet coauthored a book with Dr. Kelly and is an entrepreneur, attorney, and podcaster. She was even a professional whitewater paddler! She won three world championships and five national titles. I tell you all of this because I truly believe they combined their experiences, knowledge and background into this book. Good Morning America even featured the book and authors last month, check it out!
The philosophy of the book is movement over exercise. The authors share 10 assessments to understand how well or not well you move. Then they give you 10 physical practices to better your movement, which ultimately results in 10 ways to make your body work better.
They share a wide variety of ways to get more movement into your day and some of them you may not have thought about before. However, one of those ways to increase movement is, of course, by walking! Now, even the NFL quarterbacks are now starting their training days with 20 minutes of walking.
There are roughly 20 pages on the benefits of walking. I found it the most motivational to keep moving by seeing these specific benefits of walking:
When you walk you increase your range of motion and mechanics. Better mechanics leads to less pain. A little saying that has helped me, is "motion is lotion." Keep those joints working smoothly.
Increase Foot to Brain Communication
Walking activates the foot to brain system. According to this Web MD article, "the impact of food while walking sends pressure waves through the arteries that increases blood supply to the brain." What is good for your feet is good for your body and good for your brain.
With every walk, you increase the blood flow throughout your body. This blood flow can lead to better circulation. In addition, it gets your lymphatic system working, which gets rid of the waste, thus allowing better healing and stimulation of the immune system.
In one study, they found that physical activity such as walking, lowers levels of depression and anxiety, which both disrupt sleep. Therefore, even with just a half an hour of walking you can improve your sleep and in turn improve your mood.
A Stanford study, found walking, especially when done outdoors can help people become 60% more creative.
Walking can help to release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline thus helping you to feel better. Furthermore, walking can even give you a bonus of endorphins.
For me, being outside in the fresh air experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of nature has always had a positive impact on my life. That is one of the many reasons I made it my life passion to build trails because I get to be outside daily. At the same time, when I couple my passion for the outdoors with the desire to be moving and healthy as I age, I am finding our trails are such a gift mentally, spiritually, and physically.
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