Walk Your Way to Better Mental Health
In the last few years, more and more research has been published about the many health benefits of physical activity – especially for mental health. When our bodies are healthy, our minds are too. Physical activity, like walking, can play an important role in the management of anxiety, depression, and even chronic pain. It doesn’t take much – as little as 30-minutes of daily physical activity can have can similar effects to meditation and relaxation[i].
The trouble is that when we are facing depressive or anxious thoughts, going for a walk is not the first thing that comes to mind. For most people who suffer with mental health, it is quite the opposite: you may feel like doing less and avoid doing the things that are of value to you. The problem is, when you do less, you feel the impact of the symptoms even more and continue to miss out on living a meaningful life. This is a common cycle for most people, but it can be broken. Behaviour Activation (BA) can help disrupt the above stuck loops by introducing positive behaviours. Walking is an ideal behaviour to introduce as it has so many benefits for mental well-being. Improvements in mood and energy can be noticed almost immediately. Over time, many other benefits can be noticed, including:
- Reduced stress
- Improved memory & concentration
- Weight management
- Reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes
- Improved self confidence
- Better circulation
Consider walking like a prescription;
Complete daily for health benefits – regardless of the symptoms.
How to Get Started
Getting started is quite easy; below is a good check list to consult before beginning a walking program.
Medical Clearance: it is always important to contact your health care providers to ensure it is safe for you to become active.
Footwear: make sure you have comfortable walking shoes that fit well and still have good treads.
Walking Routes: map out a variety of routes to prevent boredom.
Schedule it: pick a consistent time of day that will be most effective for you.
Start Small: start by going for a walk for a length of time with which you are comfortable. Record this time on a calendar or chart like the one below. Increase this time by 1 minute every day until you reach your end goal of 30-60 minutes.
Example: Baseline walk (how long you were comfortable with the first time): 15 minutes
For help on getting started with a walking program, Behavioural Activation, or assistance with Anxiety & Depression, book your FREE consultation today!