- Getting started walking
- Tips for walking with diabetes
- How often should I exercise?
- How many calories will I burn?
- Is walking a good workout?
- Warm up for walking
- Walking for health
- Pregnancy and walking
- Walking can help our overweight youngsters
- Walking helps in fight against obesity
- Avoid travel chaos: walk to work!
- Diet Coke nutrition info
- 10 reasons to take up walking
- Walking facts
- Finding motivation
- How a good walk can help with stress
- A cliff with a view: New Quay walk
- St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan
- Bawsey Church near King's Lynn, Norfolk
- Walking Facts and Figures
- Rambling: how to get started
- Footpath Erosion
- Advice and Information for Leaders of Rambles
- An Introduction to the Hadrian's Wall Path
- An Introduction to the Pennine Way
- An Introduction to the Coast to Coast Walk
- An Introduction to the Cotswold Way
- Public Rights of Way FAQ
- A Guide to Walking in Britain
- More Than a Walk
How a good walk can help with stress
As the world gets more complex and demanding, people experience more and more stress in their lives. This article explains how a good walk can help you deal with your problems.
WALKING IS an excellent form of physical exercise. But most people who walk regularly would say there is something else that happens after a stroll in the country or a brisk hike round the park. Somehow the exercise has helped you relax, problems have been put into perspective and you have a general sense of well-being - as well as a healthy appetite.
Recently there has been some interesting research into the effects of walking on people's mood. When English Walking Holidays monitored a group of walkers it was found that a sense of camaraderie and bonding was quickly established between individuals. Laughter and silence co-existed easily in a relaxed atmosphere.
After the walk people said they felt better. Time was forgotten, even by those who had arrived for the walk a few minutes late feeling stressed and anxious. The walkers were asked to cut pictures out of magazines which summed up how they felt. They chose images which showed harmony, happiness and relaxation.
Paul, 32, is a senior manager in a hectic London office. He says walking has helped him cope with stress. "Over the last six months I've moved house, changed jobs and discovered my father is seriously ill. I was finding it harder and harder to relax as there was so much that needed to be done both at home and at work.
"One evening, when I was feeling especially stressed, my partner decided to drag me out for a walk. I felt I would just end up getting even more frustrated because I was out wasting time when I knew I should be getting things done.
"Once we were outside I really began to enjoy myself, laughing and joking with my girlfriend, jumping through leaves and enjoying the fresh air. We came back refreshed and wide awake, and I got more done the rest of the evening than I had in a long time. I try to make sure I don't get stressed about things now and whenever I sense that tightening in my shoulders, get a headache of feel that everything is too much, I grab my coat and escape."
Stress is an automatic reaction to a new, unpleasant or threatening situation. Whether it is everyday hassles, or more acute forms of stress, everybody experiences it. When the brain is overcome with a stressful thought, it sets off physical changes in the body, such as the release of adrenaline and other hormones. These temporarily stimulate the body, giving it the boost of energy needed to get away from a physically threatening situation or to focus better on ways of coping. But if this occurs too frequently it can have harmful effects. Too much stress diverts the body's resources away from everyday maintenance towards emergency readiness. This increases the risk of chronic disease and illness and, if prolonged, can hamper the body's ability to repair itself.
Moderate exercise is a great way to release tension. Walking is ideal as it requires no specialist equipment and can easily be included in even the busiest lifestyle. To gain the most benefit you should walk for at least half an hour, three or more times a week.
So the next time the pressures of the world seem too much, or when the bad mood you've had all day won't disappear, try taking a walk. The fresh air, wide skies, variety of colours, sounds and smells won't take away your problems or worries, but they will certainly help you deal with them.