The Benefits of Walking

Many Nutritionhelp clients are working to balance gut ecology – to reduce unhelpful yeasts in the gut and encourage beneficial bacteria to flourish. One symptom frequently associated with intestinal yeast overgrowth is lowness of mood. This may exhibit as anxiety, depression, irritability or panic. Certain herbs may be beneficial in supporting some of these feelings, and these are included in a Nutritionhelp Report when appropriate, but it is interesting to note that also a ‘breath of fresh air’ may work wonders.

Dr Mercola has written a comprehensive article looking at the value of walking on both physical and mental health. Read the full article at www.fitness.mercola.com, but helpful extracts are copied below. It is important to remember that many of the mood symptoms experienced with intestinal yeast overgrowth may be related to the toxins that the yeast produce. Exercise has the potential to ‘stir up’ these yeast toxins and thus exacerbate symptoms, so if you are not used to regular walking take things very slowly and gently to begin with.

Mercola writes:

Taking a walk during your lunch hour can have a significant impact on your mood and help reduce work-related stresses, according to other recent research. To assess how walking might affect mood and work-related stress in the immediate term, 56 sedentary office workers were asked to walk for 30 minutes during their lunch break, three times per week. As reported by the New York Times:

“The volunteers completed a series of baseline health and fitness and mood tests at the outset of the experiment, revealing that they all were out of shape but otherwise generally healthy physically and emotionally. Dr. Thogersen-Ntoumani and her colleagues then randomly divided the volunteers into two groups, one of which was to begin a simple, 10-week walking program right away, while the other group would wait and start their walking program 10 weeks later, serving, in the meantime, as a control group.”

Mood, stress level, enthusiasm, workload and other emotional components were assessed via a smart phone app, which included questions about how they felt in that moment. This allowed them to ascertain the participants’ moods directly before and after their walk. The final analysis showed a clear difference in reported mood on days when they walked versus days when they didn’t. As noted in the featured article:

“On the afternoons after a lunchtime stroll, walkers said they felt considerably more enthusiastic, less tense, and generally more relaxed and able to cope than on afternoons when they hadn’t walked and even compared with their own moods from a morning before a walk.”

Similar results were found in a recent Australian study, in which walking was found to improve quality of life for depressed middle-aged women. Those who averaged at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise or just over 3.25 hours of walking each week reported feeling more energized and more social at their three-year follow up. Not surprisingly, they also reported less pain and greater fitness.

And, the more they exercised, the greater their improvements—particularly with respect to their psychological wellbeing. That said, even small amounts of exercise was beneficial. According to study author Kristiann Heesch: “The good news is that while the most benefits require 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity or 200 minutes of walking, even smaller amounts… can improve well-being.”

 

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