by Sue Wilson, MA, ATC/L, PES, CHHC
Physical activity is critical to soothing the mind, body and soul. Walking is one of the best ways to get into an exercise routine because it is simple and needs very little equipment. The exercise of walking can work muscle groups, burn calories, improve circulation, reduce cholesterol and increase the overall quality of life for the person.
Walking can be done in your home on a treadmill, around your neighborhood or work place or down a beautiful nature trail. If you are chair-bound, you can work on lifting your legs and placing them down one at a time to stimulate walking.
Walking at a good brisk pace speeds up the metabolism and in turn activates the body to burn stored fat. You can start at a slow pace and work your way to a faster pace. Everyone must start at their comfort level and stay at that pace for 2–3 weeks. Once you create a lifestyle change of walking 3–4 times a week as a routine, then you can start to increase your pace. Once you have increased your pace, keep that pace for 3–4 weeks and then advance again to a good brisk walk.
The faster the pace you walk, the more calories you will burn, but more importantly, the more oxygen that will be circulated throughout your body. Increased oxygen to the brain will help heal damaged cells, and increased blood flow will help with healing of the surrounding tissues.
Walking is one of the best exercises for maintaining a healthy weight while also increasing muscle mass and tone. One of the side effects of suffering from a chronic brain injury can be an emotional state that does not encourage exercise, and this leaves the body more susceptible to weaker bones. Walking every day will stimulate and strengthen bones to maintain bone density that is critical to prevent osteoporosis and promote excellent joint health.
Outdoor walking can be extremely beneficial for the calming of the brain. The fresh air and sense of peace that comes with walking on a trail or enjoying the flowers can increase the body’s awareness of feeling content. The more the brain can be in a state of calm and peace, the more the emotions and frustrations can be controlled.
Start your routine today and schedule a 30-minute walk into most days of the week. Early morning walks can help set the brain for the coming day, and night-time walks can help calm the brain and prepare for sleep.
Research recommends a good, brisk pace for 30 minutes, 3–4 times a week to gain the amazing benefits of walking for the mind, body and soul.
Sue received her master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, a Certified Athletic Trainer, and a loving mother of two. She’s on the board of directors for CTE Hope, and is dedicated to helping improve the lives of those who have been affected by concussion and brain injury