Everyone has heard the expression, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But what about a walk a day? There are immediate health benefits for a short walk, such as relaxation and stress relief. Research shows that physical activity can also help prevent and manage chronic diseases.
Walking Through the Woods One Day
When you take a moment to step outside and enjoy nature, how do you feel? If you cannot recall this feeling, it has been too long! While many of us walk through the city streets or our neighbourhood streets frequently, how often do you walk in the country, through the woods, or next to a stream? You may protest and say that you live in an urban area, and there are no rivers and forests nearby.
Modern urban cities often plan ‘green space’ for their citizens. Parks and gardens can be found, if you know where to look. The Internet can be a great resource to find hidden gems in an urban area. Nature walks result in decreased anxiety and increased memory performance, compared to just walking in an urban area (Bratman, 2015).
The Science Behind Physical Activity
The hippocampus is located in the limbic part of the brain and is thought to be the centre of memory and emotion.
Physical activity has been linked to hippocampal volume, meaning that increased aerobic activity may increase the size of the hippocampus. This is especially important as we age, as dementia and memory loss can occur. Increasing your physical activity may very well be a key to a longer, healthier life (Varma, 2015).
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
John Muir, Scottish-American Naturalist
Walking Can Change Your Life
We often grumble about not having enough time for all of our usual tasks, much less to add twenty minutes to take a walk. However, there are definite health benefits to a stroll in the woods, and taking this time for yourself is important.
Bring a pair of sneakers to the office, and keep them under your desk. When you bump into them, take a fifteen or a twenty-minute walk.
Try not to think about work or worries at home or any of a million problems that might pop in your head. Instead, breathe deeply and look around. This will help integrate your brain, body. Stretch your muscles and let your mind have a respite from the busy day. When you are back in the office, you will realise how much clearer your mind is and how your own Performance improves.
Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., Hahn, K. S., Daily, G. C., & Gross, J. J. (2015). Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(28), 8567–8572. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1510459112
Varma, V. R., Chuang, Y., Harris, G. C., Tan, E. J., & Carlson, M. C. (2015). Low-intensity daily walking activity is associated with hippocampal volume in older adults. Hippocampus, 25(5), 605–615. http://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.22397