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How to Walk Away and Leave Stress Behind

By Sandy Schroeder

Walking as a way to reduce stress has always been a popular choice. But now scientists are telling us why that is the right choice.

Jogging or brisk walks really do mellow people out by triggering nerve cells in the brain that relax the senses, according to reports in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Researchers say they found exercising mice were able to handle stress better than their counterparts who were not exercising. They say the same calming effect on stress is seen in humans.

Researchers used two groups of mice; one ran around and the other was confined. When they tested the brain cells formed after exercise, the running mice had new neurons that quieted brain activity. Then when both groups were placed in icy water, the runners were better able to cope with the stress, as their brains released calming neurons.

How to Test the Research

We might test the effects of walking on stress in our daily routines.

Think about the most stressful parts of your day to see how you could use walking to improve the situation.

If you know you have a stressful meeting scheduled for the morning, you might consider doing a brief walk in the early a.m., or right before the meeting. If stress at home usually peaks around 5 p.m., when everyone arrives home hungry and tired, that might be a good time to do a short walk before dinner.

Later, after the kids go to bed, walking the dog could be a good way to let go of the stress of the day. During the day when deadlines surge, short walks might work to vent during morning or afternoon breaks. Walking could also be used in walking meetings and as walking breaks during conferences.

More Walking Options

If you already use walking as your 30-minute daily exercise routine, you might start a journal matching up stressful situations that came up.

If you walk very little, this might be the time to see how you could walk more, watching for its effects on stress. If you carry gym shoes with you in your car, and on trips, walking can happen almost anywhere. You can walk in the airport while waiting for your flight. You can walk between meetings when attending a conference. You can also make the effort to walk instead of driving to complete short errands on the weekend.

If walking works for you, you may want to join local community walk groups, wilderness hikes, or beach or park groups.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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