Have you ever had such a rotten day that you just couldn’t shake it after you went home? Well, we have a solution, but it’s probably not what you’d expect. Experts suggest that one of the best ways to get rid of your rotten mood is to get outside.
We know that walking can burn calories, ward off obesity and reduce the risk of heart disease, but an afternoon or evening stroll also holds significant stress-relieving benefits, according to numerous studies.
Calming your Nerves
Aerobic exercise of any kind has been found to calm nerves and improve bad moods, and when it’s done every day, it can enhance self-esteem and combat depression. We’re serious. Years of research has shown that a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk can have the same calming effect as a mild tranquilizer. So, why is walking—or any physical activity—such an effective stress reducer? Many experts say it’s that physical activity has the ability to trigger the release of endorphins, which are potent brain chemicals that relieve pain and stimulate relaxation. To put it simply, the higher your endorphin level, the greater your sense of calm and well-being. In addition to releasing endorphins, it has been reported that walking also helps improve memory and attention levels. The University of Michigan found in 2008 that there are cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Basically, walking in a park in any season, or even viewing pictures of nature, can help improve memory and attention.
We’re Not Kidding
Just to prove it to you – we have a case study handy. A study by the Foundation for Chronic Disease Prevention in the Workplace found improvement in the psychological well-being 752 employees in the US and UK who began walking 10,000 steps per day. The improvements noted in the study included their concentration, self-esteem, confidence and a great reduction in stress. Because of these improvements, the employees’ productivity was also directly affected. Now, we’re not assuming that all of your stress is work-related, but these numbers don’t lie. It’s also been reported that walking also puts your brain in a meditative state, which greatly reduces stress levels.
Putting This Information to Good Use
In order to reap the stress-busting benefits of walking, don’t pound the pavement or push yourself really hard. Studies have shown that a comfortable stroll can be just as effective as a brisk walk. The key is to keep your mind active while you’re walking. The Blackwater Creek Trail is great for walking because it is flat, and wider than most of our trails in Lynchburg. With all that space, you could even bring a friend to walk with you! Also, if you want an option that doesn’t make you double back on the same area of trail, the Blackwater Creek Trail is it. Pick up a trail map to learn more about the Blackwater Creek Trail at any of our kiosks today, or download it here. In addition to the Blackwater Creek Trail, our Parks & Rec staff also recommends walking Percival’s Island, the Riverwalk, or the Creekside Trail if you’re looking for a little bit more adventure.
Interested in participating in the Parks and Rec programs? Visit the activities and programs section of the website to see what’s happening now!