This past Sunday was a gloriously beautiful day in Boston. It was about 80 degrees and sunny, with a pleasant breeze coming from the harbor. By the time we stopped to re-hydrate at a craft brewery, we had been going for over three hours and had covered more than 10 miles.
I think most people recognize the cardiovascular benefits that walking confers. But, it turns out the psychological and cognitive benefits of walking are numerous and profound as well.
Our jaunt on Sunday was an urban hike. Well, it was really just a long walk. Julie and I have made a practice of going for a long walk or a hike on Sundays and we took the girls along with us this past weekend.
It’s something we look forward to throughout the week. Many times the walks are just around town here in Westborough. But, the ones that I most look forward to involve some destination that we explore on foot, like we did on Sunday.
A week or so ago, I mentioned the practice of Therapeutic Thursdays and how I devote one training day of every week to therapeutic activities. I don’t limit that “therapy” to just physical activities, like stretching. I include activities that I believe will also be therapeutic to my psychological and cognitive health, like walking.
Walking can reduce stress, sharpen our memory, facilitate mental clarity, foster creativity, and boost our mood even when we did not expect or want it to.
I came across an interesting study that was published in the journal a couple years ago. Their experiments demonstrated how “ambulation facilitates positive affect” (translated as walking improves your mood and outlook). What’s particularly interesting from these experiments is that the improvement occurred even when the subjects didn’t really want to go for a walk and didn’t really want or expect their mood to improve.
One common observation that continues to emerge from my reading and research into our cognitive, psychological, and physical health is that what’s good for the body is good for the brain, and soul.
It sure felt that way for us afternoon. Even after pounding out over 12 miles on that spectacular day we felt fantastic and nobody really wanted the day to end.
If you’re already training regularly, I think you’ll find that augmenting your program with regular walking will just accelerate your positive results. Whether it’s a stroll or therapy on Thursday let’s get out there and put some miles in.
Hey, by the way, another advantage of regular walking is that it’s therapeutic and preventative for back pain too. More to come on that topic…
Be strong, have fun!