I remember the days of extreme workouts for sports followed by weight training sessions right after. I remember feeling tired out of my mind and dead beat in between daily doubles for soccer, mixing in martial arts in between. I remember not wanting to do anything after I got home from these brutal sessions…
I would come home after classes and workouts, sit down on the couch and switch on the TV. If my parents asked me to do something as simple as taking out the trash I would dread getting up and being active.
For a long time, the only form of exercise I was doing were sports and weightlifting. And for good reason too, these allowed me to perform at my best in my events. Although I didn’t do anything other than that, I was lean and strong however I was not active.
Increase Your Activity by Walking
Being physically active is one of the best things people can do for their health – coming right after getting proper nutrition, hydration, and quality sleep. Physical activity, more importantly walking, is very beneficial for one’s health, their hormonal health. Yes, it will reduce your base stress levels too. Walking has been shown to increase productivity and cognition, boost blood flow to the brain and keep the body in congruence and momentum.
Going for daily walks is something that some of the most creative and successful people have done throughout history. Charles Dickens, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Sigmund Freud – they all credited some of their greatest creative discoveries during their daily walks. “When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: What would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?” wrote Henry David Thoreau in The Atlantic of 1862. So, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get outside ;).
Not to mention, getting out of the house or the office will do great things for your mental health as well. Being around nature has long been proven to help with becoming more present and connecting with your senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch) (1). Getting outside can also help with any sleeping problems that you may be having (something that I plan on covering in a future article – how to improve sleep). Being outside allows you to get the daylight you need to follow your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Physical Exercise is Additional Stress
Walking is one of the only known forms of exercise that doesn’t put stress on your body. Yes, exercise is physical and psychological stress to your body. Some physical stress is good and actually required to grow. However too much is not a good thing. Walking is a great way to get exercise without raising your cortisol (stress) levels. Another study listed recently in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition showed that men put on a 12-week walking program where they walked daily for 45 minutes saw a drastic decrease in their cortisol levels (2).
Next time you’re stressed out and have the time to get out into nature, go for a walk. Even if you live in the city, walking and taking in the outside air can really make a tremendous difference in your anxiety levels and your mood. Heck, even staring at trees has been shown to lower your stress levels 🙂. It doesn’t have to be long, just 15 minutes can make a difference.
Add It Into Your Life
Now, if we were to start making this a habit, it’s recommended to start shooting for around 10,000 steps a day (can be tracked with a number of free apps, I use Google Fit for free on Android) which can be achieved by going about your normal life with a 45 minute walk sometime throughout the day (preferably during the day to get the benefits of daylight – Vitamin D, and more). Of course you would need to modify that accordingly to your lifestyle (if you were sitting all day at a desk, you would need more and vice versa).
Try incorporating some daily activity into your life, it doesn’t have to be the intense weightlifting, soccer, or martial arts but try to get outside and get some steps – you’ll thank me later, it will truly make a noticeable difference on your mood and your stress levels.
Now go look at some trees 😉