Have you “rediscovered” walking during the pandemic? Many more people are out in the sun and fresh air than ever before because they finally feel the need to move and be outside. I’ve always been a walker of the sort described in this article, the type who doesn’t do it for intense, insane workouts. My walking practice is more about the aspect of simple movement, calming the mind, and allowing my body to do what it is evolved to do: walk.
There is a slight boost in mood that is always welcome and I often feel physically stronger at the end of a walk, though I’m only doing 30-40 minutes, it is a brisk pace. We HSPs need to move our bodies more and derive the myriad of benefits from this totally free and easy activity. We spend far too much time inside our own minds and not enough in our bodies. Sounds strange right? But consider that when we are moving we become keenly aware of our capability to walk and the easy way it flows. We strengthen all of our bodily systems, very importantly for sedentary people, the cardiovascular system.
“The American Heart Association calls for able-bodied adults to engage in brisk walking for at least 30 minutes five days per week. In a report that included findings from multiple well done studies, researchers found that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% cut the risk of dying by 32%. These benefits were equally robust in men and women. Protection was evident even at distances of just 5½ miles per week and at a pace as casual as about 2 miles per hour. The people who walked longer distances, walked at a faster pace, or both enjoyed the greatest protection.
The cardiovascular benefits of walking are biologically plausible; like other forms of regular moderate exercise, walking improves cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress. And if cardiac protection and a lower death rate are not enough to get you moving, consider that walking and other moderate exercise programs also help protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction. ”
Walking, as a free exercise that we can do that will reduce stress, help us maintain a healthy weight, increase our cardiovascular strength and efficiency, while simultaneously immersing us in nature (if we walk in natural areas) is the perfect exercise anyone can do, including HSPs. Obviously, walk within your limitations and don’t push yourself too hard but it is generally okay to “pick up the pace” a bit more when you find yourself slacking off.
You will need a good pair of shoes that are built for real walking, not casual shoes that will surely cause blisters or discomfort. Also pay careful attention to staying hydrated when it is hot outside and bundle up in layers when it is cold. It’s always possible to remove a layer but you can’t put one on if you don’t have it. HSPs should view a walking practice as a serious and dedicated part of their overall self-care practice. The benefits to our physical and mental health are tremendous and cost nothing.
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