The Holistic Benefits of Walking

Fall is a wonderful season for getting outside and walking; the air is crisp and the colors are glorious. Walking has long been known to have numerous health benefits but now it is understood to also be good for your mental health and spiritual wellbeing.

Health benefits: A recent AARP report states that walking 30 minutes, 5 days can week can help: manage your weight, control your blood pressure, decrease your risk of heart attack, boost your good cholesterol,lower your risk of stroke,and reduce your risk of breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. As one person so aptly put it,” I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.” (George Trevelyan)

Mental Health Benefits: Walking, particularly in pleasant surroundings, is also very effective in reducing tension and negative feelings. It has been shown to improve self-esteem, relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, elevate mood, reduce stress, enhance sleep, and increase energy. In general, an individual who walks regularly feels an overall sense of empowerment from taking an active role in their health. The universal law of nature is that movement and growth are essential to life. Inertia and stagnation can strangle a person’s spirit and creativity. Sometimes when you feel stuck, what’s most important is to simply start moving. The first step will determine the next, and eventually you will find yourself in a completely new place, physically and emotionally.

“Movement in the body brings movement in the mind. It is a natural alchemy. So many of us seek this kind of movement in our lives, a fusion between being and doing. We long to restore wholeness within ourselves and to connect with one another and with the spiritual values that sustain and guide us.” Carolyn Scott Korte, “The Spirited Walker”

Inspirational Benefits: For centuries, walking has also been recognized as a form of mediation and prayer. Some forms of worship include walking the labyrinth, circumambulating holy sites, or taking long treks on pilgrimage. But walking is especially effective as a spiritual tool in modern times when our lives are constantly moving at a rapid pace. It helps slow us down and bring us into the present moment.It helps clear our minds as we lose ourselves in the rhythm of breathing and moving. Walking in the wise company of nature can be a wonderful soul booster full of inspirational metaphors, such as the cyclical pattern of change, the vast horizon of possibility, and the interconnectedness of life.

So I encourage you to get outdoors! Take a walk in the morning before work, or during your lunch break, or as soon as you get home. Devote a whole Saturday or Sunday to go for a hike or explore a new corner of your state. And always be attuned to the metaphors nature is placing before you.

Copyright (c) 2007 Karin Marcus