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The Benefits of Walking

The Benefits of Walking

Walking. It's an activity so simple, so accessible, yet its benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing are profound. Lacing up our shoes and hitting the countryside or city roads can be a daily dose of magic for our entire being.

The Health Benefits

The advantages of walking are well-documented and far-reaching. Regular walks can help:

  • Cardiovascular health: Walking gets your heart pumping, improving circulation and therefore reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Weight management: Striding it out burns calories and helps maintain a healthy weight.
  • Strengthen bones and muscles: Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that builds bone density and muscle strength, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and falls.
  • Improve mood and combat stress: Physical activity releases endorphins, the body's natural mood-boosters, leaving you feeling happier and more relaxed. Walking can also be a form of meditation, helping you clear your head and manage stress more effectively.
  • Sharpen cognitive function: Many studies, like the 2023 study by Harvard School of Public Health, have shown that walking can improve memory, focus, and overall cognitive function.

But the benefits of walking go even deeper. Research using brain imaging techniques like Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has revealed the neurological impact of this simple act. When we walk, our brains light up, with increased activity in areas responsible for:

  • Executive function: The prefrontal cortex, the brain's command centre, becomes more active during walking, leading to improved planning, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.
  • Memory and learning: The hippocampus, responsible for memory formation, shows heightened activity during walks, especially in nature. This can lead to improved memory consolidation and learning.
  • Mood and stress regulation: The limbic system, which regulates emotions, shows decreased activity during walks, suggesting a reduction in stress and anxiety.
  • Creativity and focus: Walking can increase blood flow to the frontal lobes, which are associated with creativity and focus. This can lead to new ideas and improved concentration.

So, next time you feel a mental slump or stress looming, don't reach for another cup of coffee – grab some walking shoes. A walk can be your instant brainpower boost, creativity spark, and stress antidote.

Motivation

Adding purpose to your walk can be a powerful motivator and a way to connect with something. Consider supporting a cause you care about, like the Children's Cancer & Leukaemia Group. This amazing organisation helps families battling childhood cancer, providing much-needed support and funding for research. Imagine every step you take not only benefitting your own health but also making a difference in the lives of these children.

Stay Motivated Throughout the Year

While the benefits of walking are undeniable, some may find their motivation weakening during the colder months; Here are some tips to keep your walking routine thriving:

  • Dress for the weather: Invest in warm layers, waterproof boots, and reflective gear to stay safe and comfortable.
  • Embrace the scenery: Find new walking routes with winter wonderlands or festive decorations to keep your walks inspiring.
  • Buddy up: Walk with friends, family, or even your furry companion for company and accountability.
  • Join a walking group: Find a local walking group or club to stay motivated and meet new people.
  • Set and track goals: Set realistic walking goals for yourself and track your progress using apps or pedometers. Celebrating your achievements will keep you motivated.
  • Get a gym membership: If the outdoors simply aren't your cup of tea in winter, consider a discounted gym membership through the General & Medical insurance cover. Our partners offer affordable access to treadmills, allowing you to keep your steps going even when the weather turns.

Start small, listen to your body, and most importantly, enjoy the walk. With a little planning and motivation, you can turn walking into a year-round habit that benefits your body, mind, and even the world around you. So, find your purpose, and let's walk towards a healthier, happier you.

20% Off Gym Memberships

At General & Medical, we know staying fit and healthy is becoming part of our everyday lives and we are delighted to have teamed up with Nuffield Health to exclusively offer you 20% off their gym membership when you take out a health insurance policy with us.

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