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DIY Anxiety Management: Walking Away the Blues - Straight from a Transforming Believer

walking long distance stress relieverThis discussion is a real-life account of trying, adopting and keeping true to Morning Walks. No matter how humble this very familiar fitness activity seems, there is a lot to it that goes unnoticed. Hopefully, this discussion will help you understand why daily morning walks can be highly therapeutic for your physical & psychological health and help you become a better believer…

Around the first week of November 2017, I had settled into a reasonably regular schedule of morning walks.

The momentum was good, the pace quick and the steps curious to test my walking technique across different type of grounds/surfaces. These bouts of brisk walking had arisen earlier too but sank abruptly. The reason being that I used to get bored or being surrounded by other morning walkers seemed too suffocating.

However, moving to Dwarka has been a gift in this regard. The place we live is a blend of extreme housing development and large patches of wide, empty roads that are just about perfect for walking. Yes, I don't prefer walking in massive parks and garden trails too seem too restrictive. The biggest plus was that I started walking when the winter season hadn’t even set-in. This meant the luxury of wearing minimum and getting the time to ensure that my walking form was good – this aspect has been a bit of journey for me – walking methods are comprehensively covered in health & living articles, blogged about in lifestyle or exercise-related online magazines but lack a certain degree of clarity – what type of walking is a bit exciting and highly effective?

My Walking Explorations…much more than you imagine

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My reason for taking upon a dedicated walking schedule was simple. I needed something to keep myself distracted in the morning, some physical activity to beat the anxiety that often builds-up without having the time or inclination to exercise with weights. My gymming sojourns can be parked for being discussed later – I took up walking as a means to substitute the morning weight training, saving time and energy, ensuring that I didn’t feel spent when starting the day but was challenged to the extent of keeping my ticker happier, mixing some cardio along with some me-time that didn’t allow my mind to ruminate and the thoughts to go awry. The near 40-day walking exploration was worth the effort. Everything in your walking gear matters. From the footwear options to the type of jacket you put on, each apparel and accessory choice makes a discernible I am sharing this from my personal experiences:

Regularity matters

You have to take it up as a morning-time activity that starts the day for you. Skipping days early into a plan that is still taking shape means losing your momentum. You need to be at it for at least a month to call yourself a walker with benefits. Try not to divide the walking hours across morning, daytime and evening – walk fast, walk early in the morning and do it each day! Rise. Walk. Start Your Day! There are no rest days as compared to hitting the gym.

Invest in shoes

First impressions suggest that walking is not a high-impact exercise so you don't need highly durable or supportive walking gear. This is entirely wrong. Why? Walking regularly takes a toll on your knees and hamstring if you are doing it at the right, athletic speed. You might not have the body maneuvering guile of a pro-walker or a marathon runner but this physical activity tests your muscles, especially of your knees, ankles and the inner thigh region. Your best preparation is investing in shoes that can absorb the shock and ensure you don't develop any chronic pains.

Embrace different surfaces

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Please understand that walking coaches and fitness trainers will continue to emphasize the need for softer, slightly pliable surfaces for ensuring better, faster results without harming your legs. However, once you have attained some degree of familiarity with the walking schedule, you can challenge yourself across different surfaces. Every type of walking ground out there holds a bit of body-balancing, musculature-testing challenge. Try these to keep your walking schedule more eventful, engaging – this ensures that the morning activity is always giving you the opportunity to do something different. Just like in the gym, you need different exercises to break the monotony – the ground on which you walk is yours to explore, start new journeys every week!

Maneuver your body better

Most walking enthusiasts talk about the need to understand a basic walking principle – your entire body is in motion. You cannot hang back or slouch as you try to walk faster. Your arms cannot lay idle and your neck cannot sway on either sides if you want to walk better, for more benefits. Arms are like the rudder that help you maintain the perfect posture. Using your arms in coherence with your walking strategy is what I want people to understand better. If your arms move quicker, it will invariably push your entire body into walking faster. The pace with quicken each time your arms extend more, almost parallel to each other. You don't need to have a soldier like walking stance. Just keep the back straight, bowing ahead to the bare minimum degree as you want to press ahead and this position fuels the momentum.

Use walking to heal, as grieving mechanism

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I have been guilty of overthinking the smallest details, observing and opinionating about things that might seem hopelessly trivial to others. The result? Daylong anxiety and creating a breeding ground for self-doubt, worrying inconsolably and taking forever to get over broken relationships, missed career opportunities and developing IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Walking has been largely therapeutic for me, helping me de-clutter my mind. Usually, I try to breathe slowly even as my walking footprints gather speed. This is the time when I try to banish negative thoughts that have never helped me in growing personally, as a better worker, a more loving husband or a more caring son. Walking more, beyond my stipulated time of one hour, is my go-to therapy on days I am suffering from passive anxiety attacks.

Don't mind the slowdowns

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The morning haze, a bit of early morning chill, not having good night’s sleep and many more, there is always a reason that in the middle of your walking schedule you might be facing unwanted slowdowns. There are plenty of times I felt that the overall impetus was lacking on a certain morning. However, don't fret too much. Just lower the speed, slow down and give yourself some window to catch-up. I have rhinitis, an allergy that causes serious irritation in the nasal passage and sinuses but this never kept me away from completing my daily, 1-hour walking workout – yes, for me this is akin to doing squats or deadlifts and posting in front of the mirror!

Don't get too digital about it

There is an overwhelming push for doing everything the digital way. Speedometers or walking distance calculators, wristbands with LED displays, and activity calculators are making this look too complex. I am a technology follower too but using it excessively means you are now extracting the fun from your walking. For me, all these devices seem redundant when my mind should be free from any distraction that makes me look at a screen. I don't want to have my leg or arms brush against some type of contraption or pocketed/sleeved device. I want to walk in the freest manner with a good old wristwatch doing the trick.

Keep the faith!

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Like most things in life, sticking to any regimen, making a good habit is hard. My challenges have been the same. While seasonal allergies, bouts of anxiety and jangled nerves will always provide sufficient grounds to let go, you shouldn’t quit. As I step out again tomorrow morning when the world seems hidden, it is not about just burning calories – this is a tool in my arsenal to transform, to heal better, to believe more. And yes, remember that heel-first footsteps are the best without a big thumping action. Please share your story of using a very basic, everyday activity as a means to change for the better…THANK YOU!

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