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Can You Walk Your Way to Better Mental Health?

Walking is arguably the best exercise. It’s a natural movement that benefits the very beginner, as well as the highly fit body builder.

Why?

Well, walking is safe, effective and low-impact on the joints. It doesn’t require practice or any special ability, yet the health benefits are many. Besides trimming your waistline, it can help:

• Lower blood pressure
• Reduce the risk of or manage Type 2 diabetes
• Lower bad cholesterol
• Raise good cholesterol
Improve your mood and help you stay fit and strong
• Walking stimulates blood flow and provides oxygen to the brain, which leads to improved functioning and better ability to recall.

How Fast & Far Should I Walk?

Dr. Amen says you should “walk as if you’re late.” So a slow stroll doesn’t count. Beginners should start with a level path, and begin with 15 minutes per walk, 3-5 times per week. Once you feel comfortable with that, increase either the duration or speed.

You’d be amazed that even body builders use walking to burn calories. Walking provides a slow steady calorie burn, and the intensity can be increased with an elevated path. That’s one reason why hiking is such great exercise. When walking uphill, you get cardiovascular and muscular benefit.

So, find a local hike and enjoy the great outdoors, and intense workout. To increase the intensity, you can use resistance bands, or hand weights to swing and lift in various ways to engage the upper body and arms.

Cardio Health Benefits

Walking is a form of cardiovascular exercise (cardio). Cardio is any exercise that raises your heart rate. A stronger cardiovascular system means more capillaries delivering more oxygen to cells in your muscles. This enables your cells to burn more fat during both exercise and inactivity. The bottom line? Walking increases your endurance.

Other Tips

Walking outside to get the benefits of natural sunlight and vitamin D. To help pass the time, you can listen to music or walk with a friend instead of going out to lunch. You can also get a pedometer, which tracks the number of steps you take. Set a goal to take 10,000 steps per day!

Try “Burst” Training

Did you know that a short burst of intense exercise is extremely beneficial not only for overall fitness but for building lean muscle tissue, burning fat and promoting longevity? If you want an even higher calorie, faster-fat burn, better brain booster exercise, try burst training. Also known as interval training, burst training involves periods of high-intensity bursts (or fast walk) followed by a few minutes of lower-intensity speeds (slow walk).

The biggest benefit of burst training is it will convert you from a fat-storer to a fat-burner. Short-burst training helps raise endorphins, life your mood, and make you feel more energized.
There are endless ways you can put together a burst training workout. Below is a sample table of a heart-pumping 30-minute workout with bursts:

Sample Burst Training Workout

3 minutes warm up
4 minutes fast walking (walk like you are late)
1 minute burst (run or walk as fast as you can)
4 minutes fast walking
1 minute Burst
4 minutes fast walking
1 minute Burst
4 minutes fast walking
1 minute Burst
4 minutes fast walking
3 minutes cool down

We Can Help

If you’re new to exercise, there will be a period of progression before you go “all out” with burst training. If you can’t manage to fit it in or even do 30 minutes a day, even 15 minutes a day is okay to start with. Sticking with it is key. Eventually you’ll be walking further and faster.

Make walking a daily priority. You’ll release good mood endorphins, feel more energized and your brain will thank you. There are many ways to optimize your brain and your mind. You CAN create a brain healthy life by learning how to love and care for your brain and body.

If you, or someone you love, could benefit from an evaluation at Amen Clinics, call our Care Coordinators today at 888-288-9834 or tell us more online.

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COMMENTS

  1. Ruth Dodd says:

    The 15-30 minute walk on treadmill really helped me with depression and anxiety. I lost inches, pounds, lowered A1C and cholesterol went down. I did it every morning and worked up to 5,000 steps in 28 minutes. I still had to take anxiety, depression and cholesterol medicine but I felt better. Winter comes along and I slack. I have no energy or desire. I just can’t stick with good habits. My anxiety is over the top. I need to know how to get the energy and motivation again. I pray everyday for help. Any input to help me?

  2. David Burris says:

    18 months ago my A1C was 10.7 and my doctor said that I needed to go on insulin. I begged the doctor to let me try to change my eating and begin walking. I prayed and asked God to help me. I immediately changed my diet — no more processed flour or sugar and eating lots of raw fruit and vegetables. In 5 months I lost 10 pounds but sugar levels remained high. I thought that I was walking sufficiently, but at my wife’s insistence I bought a Fitbit. The thing said I was sedintary. So, I began a program of walking like is suggested here. Within 6 weeks I was averaging 10,000 steps per day. The weight began to drop quickly. As it dropped I became even more motivated and now average 18,000 steps per day and have lost 100 pounds. My most recent A1C is 6.1 and that is without any diabetic medications. My doctor is amazed and at 63 I feel better than I have in 3 decades.

  3. Mary says:

    Due to injuries, I have some physical limitations and walking is done only out of necessity. However, whenever I am in a pool, I walk for atleast one half the time I am using it.

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