If you happen to be out on an errand and stop by your favorite eatery for an early morning coffee, or latte, you may overhear some conversations from others, speaking about how they dread the day they are about to face. Why are so many of us look upon a new day with some misgivings? Well, the most likely answer is, for some of us, our days are impacted by STRESS.
So, what really is Stress?
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new, unexpected health diagnosis, the death of a loved one, basically anything that is not part of our normal life routines can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond. Yet if your stress response doesn’t stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary than your body was designed to accommodate for, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health!
When your body, specifically your "Central Nervous System" is triggered by elevated blood pressure caused by an unexpected stress encounter the brain, specifically the "Hypothalamus" sends a signal for your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones, adrenaline, and cortisol. These hormones rev up your heartbeat and send increased blood rushing to the areas that need it the most in an emergency, such as your muscles, other organs, including your heart. When the outside issues are perceived as being gone or things are back to normal, then the hypothalamus should react to have your body's reaction systems go back to a normal state. If, however, the cause of the increased stress does NOT go away then your body's response systems will continue to pump out adrenaline and cortisol and the increased amounts in your system could cause an overloading event.
Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic stress include:
Most of us have experienced stressful situations in the course of our lives, it would be abnormal if we didn’t. But how we cope and handle the after-effects of stress in our daily lives is very important to our overall wellbeing.
We know that walking can burn calories, ward off obesity and reduce the risk of heart disease, but your afternoon constitutional might also have significant stress-relieving benefits, according to numerous studies. With the arrival of spring and the start of (National Stress Awareness Month of April), April is the perfect time to get active and healthy by jump-starting a new walking routine. You don’t need to run for miles to enjoy the stress-busting benefits of exercise, a brisk-paced walking regimen can reduce tension and anxiety, in addition to providing a number of other health benefits.
1. It Can Put Your Brain In A Meditative State.
Taking a walk could actually shift your brain into a calmer state, according to recent research. An American Health study found that walking through green spaces can put the brain into a meditative state. The act is found to trigger “involuntary attention,” meaning that it holds attention while also allowing for reflection. Try following a walking meditation practice in one of your favorite parks to enjoy the health benefits of moderate physical activity while also quieting the mind and increasing awareness. Its almost like having a “Zen” moment, if you took your blood pressure after such an event, you may be surprised to see your blood pressure come in at a normal, or near normal reading. One way you can do this quite easily is by using an easy to use Blood Pressure Monitor like the HRM USA U80IH Automatic Blood Pressure Machine with Bluetooth. and since it has Bluetooth capability you can easily keep track of your current readings and compare the results before and after your walk!
2. Spending Time Outdoors Reduces Stress:
Here’s a good reason to take a walk in the park: Spending time in nature has been linked to stress reduction. A number of studies have found time outdoors to relieve stress, and also improve memory and attention! Even when it’s cold, taking a walk outside can improve memory and attention span by up to 20 percent. Walking outdoors has also been shown to improve energy levels. Try walking outside for 20-30 minutes several times per week to alleviate stress and give your mind a boost. Keep in mind, if you also undertake a walking regimen to help relieve your stress, if you keep that walking pace up to a brisk momentum for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week, you may be surprised to find yourself dropping more than a few pounds, besides clearing your mind and being able to deal with what issues caused you undue anxiety in the first place!
3. Walking Boosts Stress-Busting Endorphins:
Like any other cardiovascular exercise, brisk walking boosts endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and alleviate mild depression. Regular exercise, through the production of feel-good endorphins, can improve mood and self-esteem, according to WebMD. We have been hearing this for more than a decade, but its surprising just how many people do not heed this sage advice, especially when its been backed up by all the latest medical studies!
4. Walking With Friends Has Even More Stress-Relieving Benefits:
Make your daily walk a group activity for the added stress-relieving benefits of spending time with friends and developing strong social bonds. Social support from friends, family and community members has been shown to improve stress resilience and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Physical contact with a loved one or pet has also been found to lower blood pressure and decrease cortisol.
5. Walking Boosts Energy And Reduces Fatigue:
More energy and less fatigue? There’s something to lower your stress levels. According to a study, individuals with sedentary lifestyles experienced a significant boost in energy (20 percent) and a 65 percent reduction in fatigue after following exercise programs centered around walking.
Taking regular 20-minute walks have also been found to mitigate fatigue in cancer patients. The patients with moderate to severe fatigue showed a 27 percent decrease in fatigue levels after three months of walking, in addition to a decrease in pain. Routinely walking instead of making you tired because of the physical exertion, after time, the increased vascular flow and toned muscles can reduce the fatigue that you experienced before embarking on a walking-fitness program!
Now in order to monitor your new walking activity, you should be logging and tracking your distance, steps, and depending on what device you choose to do this for you, you can also keep a pretty good track on your heart-rate. Which is especially helpful if you take up walking for your health, besides of walking to keep that stress at a manageable level.
A few monitors and pedometers that fit the bill for a beginner to the walking game that I would recommend is the Garmin Vivosmart Strapless Heart Rate & Activity Tracker , In addition to measuring steps, calories and distance, the Vívosmart HR measures floors climbed with its integrated barometric altimeter. Whether you’re going for a swim or trying out a new boot camp class, it measures your activity intensity with intensity minutes. This feature lets you monitor your progress against activity goals recommended by health organizations such as the American Heart Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Now, this is a great activity monitor that can track just about everything you do on a daily basis, which is why I like it. But, if you're looking to just keep track of your stepping distance, and maybe keep an eye the calories your burning each time you lace up your walking shoes, then the Pedusa PE-771 Pedusa PE-771 Tri-Axis Multi-Function Pocket Pedometer and Clip
is my choice. The Pedusa PE-771 is one of the worlds most respected pedometers for being extremely reliable and accurate. It is ideal to use while hiking, walking, or running, it not only counts your steps, but also the distance you go each time out. And it provides you with the calories your burning each time you take a few steps.
This alone can help you keep that stress level at an acceptable range since you can feel good about yourself for doing something positive about your overall health and mental state!
So, I'm heading out for a mile or two stroll right now, how about YOU?