What makes you stronger – physically and mentally – and is free?
Yes, there was a big spoiler alert in the headline, so you already know where I’m going with this one.
If you don’t have a dog, no worries – you just get to walk in hands free mode.
Prevention Magazine, one of this country’s biggest and best proponents of walking, proclaims there are a myriad of benefits to your body from walking. Take a look at a few of these scientifically proven facts they’ve reported:
“Just two hours of walking a week can reduce your risk of stroke by 30%.”
“Logging 3,500 steps a day lowers your risk of diabetes by 29%.”
Need more proof? The world-renowned Mayo Clinic also claims “regular brisk walking can help you prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.”
So we know that walking benefits us physically. Why is it that we just feel so much better after a romp outside?
Much of that good feeling comes from endorphins, the delicious little chemical released in our brain that makes life so much nicer.
Health and fitness enthusiast Charlie Pulsipher of Sun Warrior News explains, “After 30 minutes of any exercise, the muscles run out of stored oxygen and turn to anaerobic respiration. This builds up lactic acid which signals the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and stress while creating sensations of pleasure and euphoria. Endorphins act much like antidepressants, but without the side effects, synthetic drugs, and addictive properties.”
More uplifting news comes from our friends at Prevention Magazine who say “30 minutes of walking a day can reduce symptoms of depression by 36%.”
Aside from the science behind the health benefits of walking, there’s a whole “getting out into nature” component that goes beyond statistics.
Smelling the fresh air, witnessing the ebb and flow of seasons, catching a glimpse of a bird taking flight… all of these add up to a more relaxed and healthy psyche.
Humans are geared to be outside. Our ancestors were constantly in touch with nature for millions of years. It’s just not natural to sit inside all day and night. Maybe that’s another reason that a good walk outside helps to clear your head.
Getting back to my little furry companions… walking makes for a happy and healthier dog.
It’s no surprise that the physical and mental health benefits we bipeds get are transferred to our four-legged friends.
The “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan says that daily walks with your dog are “relaxing, healthy, socializing, bonding and good for you.”
“Sharing new experiences with your dog on the walk can help build his self-confidence and reduce things like anxiety or fearfulness. The more often the two of you encounter new things with nothing bad happening, the easier your dog will be able to handle novelty without panicking,” says Millan.
Watching the antics of my dogs on our walk are some of the most entertaining moments of my day. And when we get back home, I can concentrate on what I need to do while they sleep.
Talk about a win-win. They’re happy, I’m happy… and life is simply great!