Three great incentives to begin walking those first steps

For many Americans, it is the pronouncement by their Physician stating: ‘You need to start exercising everyday’, that their walking regimen is initiated. While initially that daily ‘putting on the walking shoes and going out the door’ is an obligatory mandate because they have little to no choice if they wish to live independently or avoid major illness and debilitation or even more seriously: premature death, there is good news for them!
What is this good news?
Research suggests that the daily jaunt may not continue to be something to be endured because the acute psychological and physiological side effects of walking will be such a surprising reward, that participants soon find themselves looking forward to the refreshment and enhancing benefits, thus scheduling the activity as a daily priority.
What are the Three Great Incentives?
I. Walking as an exercise regimen has the least percentage of drop-outs than any other physical activity
II. The Acute or Noticeable Psychological Benefits:
  1. Positive mood enhancement (feeling refreshed, peaceful) and
  2. Release of tension (relaxed) due to the release of neurochemicals (hormones) in the brain. (1)
According to Robert Thayer, author of Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood with Food and Exercise: "We found that there was a clear and strong relationship between the number of steps they took and their overall mood and energy level"
III. The Acute or Noticeable Physiological Benefits:
  1. Energy gains due to increased blood flow to muscles and intake of oxygen into the lungs
  2. Falling asleep more rapidly, especially for older adults and, if you exercise a few hours before bedtime. (2)

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.  Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”  ~Soren Kierkegaard
So for all who have been mandated to begin exercising for health reasons, be encouraged that you’ll be a few steps closer to your improved state of well-being and notice it, by stepping forward and walking.

(1) Gauvin, L., and W.J. Rejeski. The exercise-induced feeling inventory: Development and initial validation. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology15 (4): 403-423, 1993
(2) King, A. C., R. F. Oman, G. S. Brassington, et al. Moderate-intensity exercise and self-related quality of sleep in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association 277:32–37, 1997.

© Lori Clinch Adams, 2011

Walking Products
Link: Walking Trails By State
Link: Walkable Communities
Link: America's 10 Most Walkable Cities
Link: Nordic Walking In Polk County Florida
Link: St. Petersburg Urban Walkers

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