It is your big toes that facilitate your gait and balance and determines how you show up in the world. Some theorists believe it is the movement of your big toes during walking that determines how blood flows through your body and increases the size of your brain.
When you walk, you carry your own body weight known as a weight-bearing activity. This is important because your muscles need to be strong enough to keep your body upright, your hands free and your feet sure. As a result, you walk with greater confidence and the risk of stumbling or falling decreases.
During a weight-bearing activity like walking, the muscles and tendons put tension on the bones, which stimulates the bones to produce more bone tissue. As a result, bones become stronger and more dense and the risk of osteoporosis and fractures decreases.
While walking you are constantly fighting the pull of gravity, a ‘fight’ that activates the vestibular system. This enables you to process what you smell, see and hear and to regulate your muscle movement. As a result you can walk and talk and the risk of isolation and loneliness decreases.
“Movement is the very essence of life”, says Marguerite van der Merwe, the author of The art of walking. “There are a myriad of magical moving moments in every day: we bend to hug a child. We wash and get dressed. We fix a cupboard. We wash the dishes. We plant a tree and through all we walk. For the average human being walking is the central activity in each day.”
Walking boosts your mood when you breathe in fresh air. Breathing deeper enables more air to flow into your body and can help calm your nerves, reducing stress and anxiety. It can also help you improve your attention span and lower pain levels.
While strolling through nature and natural light, walking relieves stress. Your ‘sitting’ muscles are lengthened during walking and so tension is released in different body parts, hormone levels are balanced and endorphins, the feel-good hormones, are released.
You have a brain in your head and feet in your shoes.
You can do whatever you choose.
Mental health goes hand in hand with physical and emotional health. Many of the great thinkers attests to this and said that most of their greatest ideas were born during walking. Sophia Delza says it well,
“it is a wise mind that knows its own body; it is a wise body that knows its own mind, and together they make a most satisfactory state to be in and live with.”
Brisk walking 4 days a week has been found to boost neurogenesis – the growth and development of new brain cells. ‘Brisk’ means you walk as fast as you can, but you can still talk, but not sing.
In his book The Brain’s Way of Healing, Dr Norman Doidge, shared stories of remarkable recoveries and discoveries. One of his stories is about John Pepper, a south African, and how John walked-off his Parkinsonian symptoms. Click here to hear John share his scientific approach to reverse Parkinsons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkCN5COXjbY
Warming up increases your heart rate and therefore your blood flow. This enables more oxygen to reach your muscles. Warming up may also reduce muscle soreness and the risk of injury. Stopping suddenly can cause light-headedness because your heart rate and blood pressure drop rapidly. Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of heart rate and blood pressure.
Moderate activities such as walking pose little health risks, but if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program of physical activity.
Above all, enjoy the walk,
And the walking!
Live the journey,
Step by step.
Marguerite van der Merwe
John Pepper, 2011. Reverse Parkinson’s Disease https://www.amazon.com/Reverse-Parkinsons-Disease-John-Pepper/dp/1434983536
Melodie De Jager, 2019. GRAVITY. Skakel na boek op amazon https://www.amazon.com/Gravity-Dr-Melodie-Jager/dp/1928376592
Melodie De Jager, 2023. Twinkle in my wrinkle. Skakel na boek https://www.mindmoves.co.za/product/the-twinkle-in-my-wrinkle/
Norman Doidge, 2016. The Brain’s Way of Healing. Skakel na book op amazon https://www.amazon.com/Brains-Way-Healing-Discoveries-Neuroplasticity/dp/067002550X
Marguerite van der Merwe, 2009. The art of walking. Skakel na book op amazon https://www.amazon.com/Art-Walking-Marguerite-Osler-ebook/dp/B08QDRVLBW
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/exercise/exercise-your-bone-health#:~:text=The%20best%20bone%20building%20exercises,-Weight%2Dbearing%20and&text=Weight%2Dbearing%20exercises%20force%20you,weights%20%E2%80%93%20can%20also%20strengthen%20bones