How walking improves health, brain function, and happiness
We created gita the following robot to get people moving more. To get them up and out; walking more and walking further. To do more of their living on foot, to give them more opportunities to enjoy nature and the local gems of their neighborhoods. Why is walking so important to us? Because the benefits of walking-centered living aren’t just at the macro level—cleaner environments, happier communities, and stronger local economies—but also at the individual level. Walkable living means healthier living. The proof is in research. Let’s take a look.
Have you ever noticed how taking a walk can clear the mind? How a solution to a seemingly impossible problem suddenly becomes apparent after a stroll? There’s a very simple reason behind this: the brain is a “motor-centric” organ, meaning that our physical movement directly affects its ability to function. It’s kind of like each step generates brain power; if we stop moving, it can’t work as well.
Besides promoting a better working brain all-around, walking also has major mental and physical health benefits:
People who walk routinely have lower rates of depression
gita tip:Try combining your walk with calming music or a meditation streaming through gita’s Bluetooth speaker
Brisk walking can lower blood pressure
Consistent walking decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease
Routine walkers score higher in traits like openness, extraversion, and agreeableness
Walking for even a little as 10 minutes a week can help prevent arthritis
Physical activity is beneficial before doing a creative activity
gita tip:Pack your creative project into gita and set up shop outside!
Our senses become sharpened when we are walking, “Rhythms that would previously be quiet suddenly come to life, and the way our brain interacts with our body changes.” -Neuroscientist Shane O’Mara
gita tip:Make sure to pack a notepad and pen in gita so you can write down your epiphanies along the way
Essential brain-nourishing molecules are produced by physical activity
Raised levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which increases resilience to ageing and damage caused by trauma or infection
Increased vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which helps to grow the network of blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to brain cells
Walking in natural environments adds even more benefits. This is called “nature therapy,” “forest bathing,” or “forest recreation” by researchers, and here are just a few of their findings:
Forest recreation is effective for relaxation of both the mind and body
Decreases tension, anxiety, hostility, fatigue and confusion
Elicits relaxation and sense of calm
Just 2 hours of nature walking can improve sleep time & sleep quality
Nature therapy may be useful in patients who can’t be treated by standard pharmacological therapies
Independent outdoor activity has shown an increase in feelings of well-being and self-worth
gita tip:Taking the scenic route often means taking the longer route, but with gita carrying all your stuff there’s nothing holding you back
Okay this stat is so mind blowing we just had to share it: Having 10 or more trees in a city block improves health perception in a way that is like an increase in annual personal salary of $10,000. If your block doesn’t have 10 trees, it may be time to apply for a planting permit.
It’s better to be more active over the course of the day, rather than pack it all into an intense hour at the gym. People who engage in an hour of really intense physical activity tend to engage in much less activity afterwards.
For maximum health benefits, walks should be at least 30 minutes long and done at least 4 times a week.
Sources: Fleming, A. (2019, July 28). ‘It’s a superpower’: how walking makes us healthier, happier and brainier. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jul/28/its-a-superpower-how-walking-makes-us-healthier-happier-and-brainier?CMP=Share_iOSApp_O...
Hansen, M. M., Jones, R., & Tocchini, K. (2017). Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(8), 851. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080851
Health | AmericaWalks. (n.d.). Https://Americawalks.Org/. Retrieved March 14, 2021, from https://americawalks.org/learning-center/benefits-of-walking-2/health/#
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