This article has been written by Harmonizing guest writer, Cloe Matheson. 

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We all know that regular walking is vital for our physical and cardiovascular health. But the benefits of walking go far beyond fitness. A pleasant, long walk can also do wonders for your mental health. Whether you commit to a day-long hike each weekend or a 30-minute daily stroll through a local park, regular walking can help you maintain a healthy and happy mind. Here are 7 ways walking can improve your mental wellbeing.

Releases Endorphins

Chemicals called ‘endorphins’ are produced by your body whenever you exercise, making you feel uplifted, enthusiastic, and positive. Walking is one of the easiest, most natural forms of aerobic exercise – bringing positive benefits for people of all ages and abilities.

The best part is you don’t have to push yourself too hard to reap the mental health benefits of walking. A 20-minute brisk walk around your neighbourhood is enough to boost your endorphins and improve your overall mood.

Provides an Escape

During moments of high stress, taking a step away from the problem at hand is sometimes more productive than trying to power through immediately. Whether you’re feeling work-related stress or struggling from a personal issue, treating yourself to a walk outdoors can provide the perfect escape you need. Going for a walk can help to shake off your worries, refocus your mind, and get your perspective back on track. When you return, you will likely feel in a better state of mind, and ready to tackle the issues that are causing your stress.

Improves Your Self-Esteem

The physical benefits you gain from walking regularly can ultimately help to boost your self-esteem.  Regular walking strengthens your heart and bones, increases your energy levels, and keeps your body in good shape. When you’re more in control of your weight and overall health, you will feel better about yourself inside and out.

Gives You Sense of Accomplishment  

The sense of accomplishment you feel after completing a goal helps to reinforce your sense of purpose and worth. By setting a target to do a certain amount of walking each day, and actually following through with it, you will feel like you’ve achieved something for your own good. As your exercise abilities improve over time, try increasing your walking target to challenge yourself. You can track your progress and success by wearing a Fitbit or writing it down in an exercise journal.

Connects You with Nature 

Nature has undeniably calming effects on the mind. The beauty and serenity of the natural world create a sense of peace that is often harder to find in busy urban environments.

Walking barefoot outdoors helps us reconnect with nature. Think about a gorgeous sandy beach or a beautiful park with soft green grass. Kicking off your heavy shoes and feeling the soft ground beneath your feet immediately makes you feel happier and calm.

Coming into direct contact with the natural world promotes a feeling of mindfulness and gratitude, helping to reduce any feelings of stress and anxiety. Additionally, going barefoot has the physical benefits of improving your balance and strengthening the muscles in your feet.

Promotes Better Sleep

Having good sleep patterns is crucial for your mental health. Problems with sleeping have often been linked to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Doing just 30 minutes of walking each day can help to prime your mind and body for better sleep.

Allows Time for Thinking and Reflection

For the sake of your mental health, you must make time for yourself with no distractions. Walking provides the opportunity for quiet contemplation and self-reflection. Whether you’re going on a long stroll on the beach or hiking through the tranquil bush, walking outdoors encourages you to unplug from technology entirely and focus on yourself.

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Writers often spend a lot of time sitting down, so Cloe makes sure she spends at least an hour a day meditating or taking a walk around the neighbourhood to clear her mind for that much needed writing inspiration. You can read more of Cloe’s work on Tumblr.

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