by Betsy Kane
Walking is a form of exercise in which almost everyone can partake. The medical profession has long understood the importance of regular exercise in maintaining health. But can walking be used along with traditional therapies to treat neurological illness or injury? If walking is good for one's body, is it also good for one's mood and attitude?
During moderate exercise, the heart rate increases, metabolism increases, breathing increases, and muscle tension diminishes. This changes the hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain, which influence thinking and mood. Psychologists who have used or researched exercise as part of the therapeutic process find that regular walks:
Additionally, when walking or exercising, one is in touch with one's environment. Anxious or depressed people who focus on the past or future become immersed in the present. Walking can be a solitary endeavor, or a social activity. Walking each day can be a scheduled activity. This adds structure to one's daily life. A walking program can be constructed to plan for long and short term goals and can add continuity to one's life.
Also, walking is a low cost form of exercise. It is low stress and low impact and allows for flexible scheduling. With some effort, walking can be a form of exercise that can fit into almost any lifestyle. Most malls now have walking programs allowing for year round participation.
Walking Week is the first week of May. Check your area for related events.
Reading: "The Origin of Everyday Moods" by Thayer, Oxford Press.
Editor's Note: There are numerous walking events sponsored by national organizations in the spring. Walkers solicit "Pledges per mile" from local businesses, family and friends which help with research, medical equipment, education, rehabilitation and training services for the many organizations dedicated to fight against debilitating injury or illness. Please consider participating or sponsoring someone!
Revised: Saturday, February 23, 2002 08:42 AM