Well-being by walking

WHAT

Did you know that walking benefits your body and your mind?

WHY

Remember, we talked already in another article about the necessity of relaxing body and mind to feel at ease. And well, there is a magical activity which works on these two sides. And you know what? This activity, you can practice it anytime, day or night, and there is no need to buy specific equipment to do it. That’s because it is just about… walking! Let’s go and see what are the miraculous benefits of walking, on the body and mind.

HOW

There are specific routes well designed to get in touch with our predecessors ( pilgrimages, for example, are routes that numerous men walked on for centuries) or our contemporaries (meeting other walkers is frequent on many hiking paths, and the stories which you will live during your pedestrian holidays can be shared with your colleagues when you will come back to work!). Also, it is obvious that walking in nature is more pleasant than walking in town (you have a better contact with your environment, contact which can be improved by walking barefoot: to walk barefoot is an interesting experience, but which must be done in good conditions. Avoid going alone, take a pair of shoes and a medical kit with you, and, of course, go walk in a “clean” place (for example, cities are not appropriate for this exercise!). However, what’s magic, is that if you just walk in a non-specific way, for example to go home after work, you’ll already benefits all these virtues, even if it is to a lesser extent.

WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH IT

From a very concrete point of view, walking in whatever environment generates unsuspected physiological profits. Actually, the WHO insists heavily on the benefactions of walking in its ” World Recommendations on the physical activity for the health” edited in 20101. Furthermore, in 2012, the WHO has listed and validated all the modern studies on the benefactions of walking2. It recommends in particular to everyone to make at least 10000 steps a day (it takes approximately 10 minutes to make 1000 steps). Here are listed some of the physical benefactions: reinforcement of muscles and fortification of bones, improvement of the vital capacities, reduction of the risks of heart attack, stimulation of the immune system, decrease of the risk of AVC, reduction of the risk of breast and colon cancer, and of the type 2 diabetes … In brief, according to the WHO, the settled way of life is the 4th world cause of “avoidable deaths”! …

But the most beautiful is that walking also has an action on the mind: it improves memory, attention, creativity, because walking improves, among others, the irrigation of the brain (and as a consequence, its functionning2).

We made the tour of the walking subject. And now on, let’s go!

Look further / Useful link(s)

NOTES

1■ http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44436/1/9789242599978_fre.pdf

2■ Ca m’intéresse, may 2017, article “Les bienfaits de la marche” (FR)

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A biological basis of culture ?


And 2 other news

 

In attempts to define what makes us uniquely human, emotions and feelings are often marginalized. These deeply ingrained, often irrational aspects of our behaviour seem destined to be the poor cousins of the rational cognitive functions that enable the formulation of mathematical theorems or operatic scores. In his bold and important book The Strange Order of Things, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio argues that in underestimating the contributions of such ‘lower-level’ brain phenomena to ‘higher-level’ cognitive functions, science might have been missing out on some important biology. Similarly, neuroscience’s emphasis on the origins of language as a shaper of culture might have eclipsed the role of feelings.

[…]

Damasio traces core components of the human “cultural mind”, such as social behaviour and cooperation, back to the non-human biology of unicellular organisms present at the inception of life. Bacteria do not sit up at night to contemplate the nature of their existence, and are unable to calculate the trajectories of distant planets. Nevertheless, they are in full command of an impressive repertoire of social behaviours. For example, when nutrients are scarce, bacteria eschew their hermit-like lives and clump together. They can also align into defensive palisades that can confer resistance to antibiotics.

Although compelling and refreshingly original, Damasio’s thesis would have benefited from a more detailed exposition of the scientific evidence supporting his assertions.

Read full article in nature.

2 other titles that grabbed our attention:

 

The love drug that could draw people away from any addiction

The “cuddle chemical” oxytocin boosts social bonds. Soon a version of it will be tested in pill form to see if it can reset the brain wiring that gets us hooked

Article from new scientist.

 

Chemical controllers: How hormones influence your body and mind

WE LIKE to think we are in charge of our own behaviour – that our thoughts are under our conscious control and that our actions are mostly reasonable. But our behaviour is also in the sway of an ancient system of mind control: hormones. These protein messengers are best known for their fundamental duty as regulators – think of insulin and blood sugar, for example – but they also bathe the brain in chemical information that tells us about the world around us and the people in it.

Can a surge in a particular hormone make us feel and act like a totally different person?

Article from new scientist.

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