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Community Wellness: Emotional and wellness benefits of walking

Community Wellness: Emotional and wellness benefits of walking

March 15, 2015

By Robert Lathers CEO
Ionia County Community Mental Health

Posted Mar. 15, 2015 at 12:03 AM


As spring is nearing and there is a greater pull to spend time outdoors it is the perfect time to consider increasing our walking activity. Many health professionals and health plans encourage individuals to have a walking goal of 10,000 steps a day. A simple pedometer can be a great tool in helping us tracking our steps.

The physical health benefits of walking are enormous but the emotional benefits are just as great. Research on the emotional and mental health benefits of walking is extensive and conclusive. Simply put, an active walking lifestyle helps reduce overall stress and anxiety; can help relieve low mood or short bouts of depression; helps with addiction recovery; improves sleep behavior; sharpens memory; can reduce the risk of onset of Alzheimer's; increase overall energy; and if you walk with others can help build relationships. There is almost no downside to an active walking lifestyle.

Since technology has relieved us of the requirement to get out of our chairs to turn the channel, to answer the phone, to check our mailboxes, go to the bank, go to school, or even to shop it is extremely important that we find ways to actively be physically and emotionally healthy. Walking is one of them.

Several area schools offer indoor walking times for residents before or after school hours. For more information contact your local school. Ionia County Community Mental Health, with other community partners, also sponsors a weekly Walking event, every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Ionia Armory Community Center, 439 W. Main St. This event is open to the public. A free bottle of water is provided to each participant. For more information about joining a walking group contact Dennis Gaskin, Ionia Co. Community Mental Health, at 616-527-1790.

Robert Lathers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the CEO of Ionia County Community Mental Health.