Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Walk Off Your Stress

These are stressful times. Though the economy seems to be improving, there are still too many people out of work and too much anxiety over the future.  Prayer and meditation (such as Centering Prayer) can be a tremendous help in reducing stress and giving one a sense of well-being.  But exercise is also very important. Stress weakens our immune system and can even cause  narrowing of the arteries of the heart. Stress is also associated with depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is the No. 1 cause of suicide. (Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among teens.)

A simple solution to help alleviate stress ( and it doesn’t cost anything) is a walking regimen.  There are many stress- busting benefits of walking. Brisk walking has the “power to calm jangled nerves and improve bad moods." According to an online article, A Step Ahead of Stress, at Prevention.com., brisk walking “done every day, can enhance self-esteem and combat depression. Research has shown that a brisk 20-30 minute walk can have the same calming effect as a mild tranquilizer……….Why is walking or any physical activity a stress reducer? Many experts cite its ability to trigger the release of endorphins, potent brain chemicals that relieve pain and stimulate relaxation." There is also a technique to walk and meditate at the same time. It combines low-intensity walking and a simple meditation technique. All you have to do is pay attention to your footsteps, counting, “one, two, one, two” while visualizing each number in your mind as you walk. If your mind drifts, just go back to the counting. It sounds easy enough. It’s something I’m going to try. Apparently, low intensity walking combined with meditation produced impressive results.

Apparently, according to the article, brisk walking, meditative walking or mindful exercise (such as tai chi), worked very quickly to reduce stress. It’s worth a try, if you’re stressed or just to improve your overall health.      NJA