Hike it Baby’s Winter Walk for the Website Challenge encourages individuals and families to head outside for a ten-minute walk every day in the month of February. The Winter Walk Challenge aims to get people outside during the part of the year where most of us could use extra outdoor time. February brings cold temperatures, more cloudy days, and snow and ice for many parts of the country, making it one of the toughest months to get outside. However, a ten-minute walk outside helps you gain both the mental and physical benefits of activity outdoors.
Let’s Start with A Walk
Walking alone is good for your health. According to the CDC, physical activity accumulated in segments of at least ten minutes can improve a variety of health-related outcomes.
Walking, as they say, “gets the blood flowing”. It helps reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar which can help fight heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Improves Brain Function
A walk can help refresh your mind. Cognitive benefits including improved attention, concentration, and problem-solving.
According to the Sleep Foundation, researchers have found that people who exercised regularly, including walking, fell asleep more quickly, slept longer, and had better quality sleep than those who did vigorous exercise or lifted weights.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a simple 10-minute walk may be as effective as a 45-minute workout in terms of reducing anxiety and depression.
Take Your Walk Outside
There is plenty of research on the health benefits of spending time outdoors. Time outside is an immediate mood booster and has proven to be beneficial to mental health. Researchers from the University of Essex found that spending as little as five minutes doing “green exercise,” or activity in nature, was enough to boost study participants’ mood and self-esteem. Among office workers, even a view of nature out a window is associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction.
The outdoors activates all of our senses. When we walk outside the scenery changes as we move so we are more present in our environment. This practice of mindfulness has lasting effects on our overall mental well-being.
How to Make Your Outdoor Walk a Habit
Mix up your ten-minute family walks with these ideas, including playing a follow the leader game or looking for signs of nature. Mind, Body, Green offers a few simple ways to squeeze the walk into your day:
1. Go for a walk first thing in the morning (you won’t believe how well this works to wake you up)!
2. Make your meetings walking meetings (instead of sitting meetings).
3. Go for a lunchtime walk.
4. Take public transportation or drive a few blocks away from your final destination and walk the last part instead.
5. Get in an after-dinner walk (this can feel great for digestion).
Here’s the best part, friends. That daily walk will become a healthy habit. And if you can make it happen in February, you know you can make it happen any time of year. Who’s up for a walking streak?
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