Having a stressful day? Wait, before drinking that coffee or eating that chocolate, consider a quick walk outside.

Three reasons why you should take a walk

This is a great alternative to just staying put and trying to muscle your way through a day of stress.

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Grab what time you can and take that walk! As you see and feel the relief results you can add longer walks to you day!

Refreshing and renewing the brain has an impact on daily life that leads to a sense of confidence and competence.

1. Breathe in the air as you walk – use all your senses and turn on your brain

To begin, walk at whatever pace you wish.

Notice when your body wants to slow down..

..and do so, allowing you to notice more around you. In fact, you might begin to breathe in on a step and breathe out on the next. Find a rhythm!

If on a certain day, you don’t  slow your walking pace down, that is fine. There is always tomorrow.

Just getting up and stretching

As you walk, you are getting the blood flowing back into parts of the body that may have been in a sitting posture or static position for a long time.

Fight the emotional parts of the brain

Focusing on the breath being deeper and slower is a way to regulate the nervous system. With that comes less fight and flight response and more rest and heal response.

The parts of the brain that problem solve are off line when the emotional parts of the brain are activated so when those emotions lessen, more effective use of the conscious mind is possible.

While walking, noticing what you see in terms of colors, shapes, textures and movement can clear the stress from inside the body and mind.  Being aware of pleasant odors can also bring a smile.

All of this action can act as an antidote to the stress of your day.

2. Consider the benefits of walking for the brain

benefits of walking_2Walking can be a meditation

Gregory Bratman is a graduate student at the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University. He is studying the psychological effects of walking in urban settings.

Walking along a busy highway is not calming but being in a park or natural preserve has a real effect on lowering blood pressure, the pulse rate, and reducing the level of cortisol which is released in response to stress.

Beyond that, Bratman is looking at the increase of attention, happiness and cognitive ability.

Forest bathing

Research is also going on to validate the Forest Bathing that has been pursued in Japan since 1982.  Forest Bathing is the term for slow walks in nature where all of the senses are activated.

In fact breathing in essential wood oils is an important component of this.

Relaxation and recreation is the basis for this activity and it has spread to countries such as Korea, Italy, UK and the US. 

In fact this is now a spa feature  and a growing trend in the spa industry.  Check out a facility near you which offers Forest Bathing  just for fun.

3. Walking can help with decision making

Sometimes we can get stuck and not be able to make a decision or even problem solve.

How can walking help with that?

Remember a time when you were confident and competent and how you walked?  Take a few minutes and go outside and begin to adjust your body to walk like that.

Feel which parts of the body open and walk with power and grace

After about 15 minutes, when you feel that strongly, think about the situation that needs a decision or that problem to be solved and maintain that walk of power and grace.

You may be surprised at what your now refreshed brain is capable of doing quickly and easily.

Walking is an activity that we already do to some extent. Why not use it to leverage heath benefits?  It is fascinating to know that we are joining the ranks of ardent walkers such as Charles Dickens and Abraham Lincoln.  Imagine what is possible!

Connect with Expert Dorothy Rodwell

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