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7 Terrific Ways Walking Reduces Stress and Anxiety

So, walking reduces stress and anxiety huh? Trust me, I can feel the cynicism from here! I know, I know, it sounds to easy and simple to be true. But hear me out before you dismiss this as click bait!

Stress and anxiety are common mental health concerns that can affect anyone at any time. In fact, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, an estimated 8.6 million Australians will experience a mental illness/disorder during their life, while 4.2 million people have experienced a mental disorder in the past 12 months alone! Very sobering statistics.

What then, can be done to prevent the frequency of these occurrences? What can you and I do ourselves to lower the potential impacts of mental disorders? While there are many ways to manage stress and anxiety, one simple and effective strategy is to increase your daily step count. Simple walking reduces stress and anxiety. Here’s how.

1. Releases endorphins

Exercise, including walking, releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that can help reduce stress and anxiety. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the brain that interact with receptors in the nervous system to reduce pain and enhance feelings of pleasure and well-being. Walking for just 30 minutes a day can release endorphins that help you feel better and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

2. Walking reduces stress by lowering cortisol levels

Cortisol is a hormone that’s released in response to stress. While cortisol is necessary in small amounts, chronic stress can lead to consistently high cortisol levels, which can have negative effects on the body and mind. Walking reduces stress by lowering cortisol levels, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety.

3. Improves sleep

Sleep is essential for good mental health, and poor sleep quality can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. You know the feeling, you have a few nights bad sleep, you make poor food choices, you feel bad for not doing any exercise, and your mood spirals downward in response. It’s a bad place to be. Walking can help improve sleep quality, which can in turn reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and get your mood and routine heading in the right direction! Walking also helps regulate circadian rhythms, which are the body’s internal clock that controls sleep-wake cycles.

4. Promotes mindfulness

Walking can be a meditative activity that promotes mindfulness and helps you stay present in the moment. Mindfulness is a practice that involves paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment, and can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Walking mindfully can help you focus on the present moment, connect with your surroundings, and let go of worries and stressors. Next time you’re walking, don’t put the ear-pods in, rather walk with you own thoughts, let your mind wander and sort through whatever comes to mind.

5. Provides a break from screens

walking reduces stress

This picture gives me anxiety just looking at it! Screens, including phones, computers, and televisions, can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. Taking a break from screens and spending time outdoors can help reduce stress and anxiety. Walking provides a great opportunity to disconnect from screens and connect with nature, which can have a calming effect on the mind and body.

6. Increases self-esteem

Exercise, including walking, can help improve self-esteem and self-confidence, which can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Walking regularly can help you feel better about yourself and your abilities, which can improve overall mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

7. Boosts social connection

Walking can be a social activity that promotes connection with others. Walking with a friend or joining a walking group can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can contribute to stress and anxiety. Social connection is important for good mental health and can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

So, increasing your daily step count can be a simple and effective strategy for reducing stress and anxiety. Walking reduces stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins, lowering cortisol levels, improving sleep, promoting mindfulness, provides a break from screens, increases self-esteem, and boosts social connection. Walking is a low-impact exercise that’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine, and the benefits for mental health are numerous. So why not take a step in the right direction and start walking more today? Your mind and body will thank you.

Need some inspiration to get up and get walking? Here are 9 tips to get more steps in each day!

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