How Walking can help your Mental Health

Medically reviewed by Keri Ann Laurito
Medically reviewed by Keri Ann Laurito on May 22, 2020
RYT/E-RYT/Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist/Wellness Educator, YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider)
Updated on May 22nd, 2020
walking for health

I need to breathe, I need to clear my head, and I need to get out of the house.

There is a good chance you are saying this to yourself at this moment of uncertainty. As a country, this has not been easy. We are dealing with COVID-19 and under stay at home orders. We are free to walk outside but must wear a facemask. A wonderful way to clear the mind and have a fresh perception is putting on your sneakers and getting outside for a walk. Taking a walk, you are exercising and getting fresh air into the lungs and body. Walking can release endorphins and help clear the mind.

“Thoughts come clearly while one walks” — Thomas Mann

Walking as Meditation

Walking, you can also be a meditation to help calm the breath and stress in the body. Set your intention while putting on your sneakers. Once you are outside, feel the air on your face and take a deep breath and pause and look up and see the trees, hear the birds, feel the sunshine, or feel the rain. Begin your walk and start slowly and mindfully walking, moving into a walking meditation.

If you have ear pods, you may want to listen to some calm music. Begin by noticing how the body is moving. Is there a feeling of tightness or a feeling of being stiff? Once the body gets moving and warms up, this will all dissolve. Placing one foot in front of the other feeling the ground under you as you breathe in and exhale down into your feet into the ground. Focus on your breath and allow your breath to be slow and be steady, with each footstep. Just tuning in to your body and how you are feeling currently, at this moment.

Sounds easy right? As a nation, this is not as easy. This is where you get creative and explore new streets or take a ride into the country and find a nice quiet road. Walk in your neighborhood where you see familiar faces, who are in this with you, and you start to figure out a way to move together to make space so you can enjoy that quiet walk.

Some people like to jog, bike, and hike or do a structured class like yoga, total body fitness. A combination of walking and fitness activity is a wonderful way to stay active and mentally helps clear the mind by reducing stress.

Walking Boost Immune System

how to boost immune system
Image: ShutterStock

Walking can calm the nervous system from the flight or fight. Getting fresh air and sunlight (vitamin D) into your body, and getting the blood circulating helps clear the mind. By doing this, you can start to have a new view of things by the time you return home. Get outdoors; you never really know what you may experience and allow yourself to be open to new experiences; you may have a new take on life that you did not think of or recognize(1).

When you are inside, you will not be building your immune system; you may be depleting it with stress and uneasiness, which lowers the immune system. Walking helps reduce anxiety and reduce negative thoughts. Walking is a wonderful way to manage what is going on in your current daily life.

About the Author

Keri~Ann Laurito

Keri~Ann Laurito loves to travel and to meet new people from different cultures and the challenge of different yoga backgrounds. Her style, of Vinyasa/Hatha Yoga, is fun and high-spirited flowing practice of that links the breath to the movement.

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