The modern world we live in is full of stress, unhappiness, insecurity, and plenty of depression. Our jobs, the commutes, traffic, finances, church duties, family, relationships, dating, our spouse, the kids, the news, and never enough time all weigh heavily on us, dragging us down. Stress wears the body out and depletes important neurotransmitters, nutrients, and minerals which leads to fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety, inability to sleep, bad eating habits, and many other negative effects.
The cure to your mental health problems and many physical problems too may be as simple as taking a 30 minute walk each day. Exercise decreases stress, relieves anxiety, creates a sense of well-being, increases confidence, improves sleep, and relaxes both body and mind. This is all on top of the benefits to heart health, circulation, the lungs, and our muscles.
Don’t say you don’t have time. How many of us watch a half hour of television each night? How many of us watch much more? Just cutting out one short show each day gives you plenty of free time to take a walk. If you have a treadmill, you can even keep the show and walk at the same time.
Don’t say it’s too hard either. We aren’t talking about running a marathon or even jogging a mile. You don’t have to push yourself too hard; just get up, get out, and put one foot in front of the other for 30 minutes. Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise. You can do it anywhere, even in place if you can’t get outside. If half an hour leaves you gasping for air, start with 20 minutes and work up to 30 over a few weeks.
After 30 minutes of any exercise, the muscles run out of stored oxygen and turn to anaerobic respiration. This builds up lactic acid which signals the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and stress while creating sensations of pleasure and euphoria. Endorphins act much like antidepressants, but without the side effects, synthetic drugs, and addictive properties.
Exercise improves memory and cognitive functions, actually creating new neurons and increasing the connections between them. This makes it easier to deal with stress too as your brain moves faster, work is easier, and it takes less effort to pull up memories. 30 minutes a day is also the perfect amount to prevent weight gain and to safely, slowly lose pounds. Walking can lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, build lean muscles, and strengthen bones.
Once you’re comfortable with 30 minutes a day, feel free to extend it to 45 minutes or even an hour. The time is well spent when it adds years to your life and makes those years healthier, happier, and more lucid. Make it a habit and it will be one of the best habits you’ve ever picked up. It may be difficult at first, but you’ll be glad in the long run as you feel happier, less stressed, more confident, and healthier.