Dr Hussain Al-Zubaidi is a GP, TV doctor and triathlete! He shares his top five ways walking helps your mental health.
There are about 500 ways in which walking is good for your mental health, so this will be difficult, but here are my top five. These are why each Saturday morning I can be found at one of my local parkruns!
1. Connection with nature and green spaces
The outdoor space is the foundation of our being, however with modern society it is easy to hibernate indoors especially during the colder months. Reconnecting with nature can help bring a sense of calm and is the perfect place to practice mindfulness.
When you are walking try to be as present as you can with the sounds, smells, and sights around you.
2. Sense of community
Social connectedness is a well-known pillar of mental wellbeing and a fundamental human need. Just being around others can be enough but there are also many friendly people who have come along for a good old natter.
3. Boosts your endorphins
These are our innate ‘happy chemicals’ that help reduce pain, inflammation and improve sleep. Physical activity has unrefutably been shown to increase these chemicals, which is why you may hear people talking about the physical activity ‘high’.
4. Boosts our mood and lowers our stress levels
For the last 200,000 years we have lived as hunter gathers. This lifestyle was one of constant movement, being around nature and with other members of our tribe. That is how our body and mind are wired to be safe and content.
parkwalk at parkrun simulates that in the 21st century. Countless studies have demonstrated regular walks, especially in groups, have significant improvements to our mental and physical health.
5. Great start to your weekend: Saturday is parkwalk day!
Having a routine like this can help you get the most from your day, especially when you feel demotivated. When you register on the website you get a barcode. This helps you track all the events you have attended.
Seeing these numbers rise and hit various milestones like 10, 25 and 50 provides a motivational boost to keep at it and also gives you the confidence to explore what other lifestyle changes you would like to make.
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