The global pandemic has been tough for a lot of people. Lost jobs, fear of contracting the virus and being cooped indoors has taken its toll. Depression rates have increased and suicides are at an all-time high.
Loneliness and negative attitudes towards government guidelines are also causing poor mental health among huge swathes of the global population. Studies show there has been a decline in happiness by as much as 40%.
Global lockdowns may be increasing stress levels and crushing the enjoyment of life, but we have to find a way out of the mire. Governments will not find solutions to make you happy. You can only do that yourself.
The body has its natural happy pills
How we experience life creates a chemical reaction in the body. The brain naturally secretes a cocktail of neurotransmitters into the body which influences how we act and feel.
We also have a built-in happy pill – endorphins. Typically released with regular physical activity, endorphins trigger positive feelings and give you a euphoric boost – similar to morphine.
Exercise is an effective way to manage stress. Regardless of how intense the activity is, exercise helps to reduce stress hormones and release endorphins.
Walking is an entry-level, low-intensity form of exercise almost anybody can do. Health experts say you only need to walk for 20-30 minutes a day to feel the benefits.
The faster you walk, obviously, the fitter and happier you are. Fitness walking is proven to have a number of health benefits including lowering the risk of heart disease and boosting mental health.
Exercise and health
Exercising two or three times a week has been shown to improve your health and your mood. Heart-pumping exercises reduce the amount of cortisol that kicks in when you are stressed.
Given stress has been linked with a high number of chronic illnesses including, heart disease, cancer and suicide – the top three leading causes of death in the United States – engaging in an exercise program makes complete sense.
In addition, walking makes you breathe more deeply and your heart beat faster. This is important for improving the immune system. And a strong and healthy immune system is what you most need to defend against coronavirus.
Oxygen plays a central role in boosting the immune system fend off bacteria, parasites, fungi and viruses – including Covid-19.
The more you exercise, therefore, the more oxygen you take into your lungs and the better prepared your body is to fight coronavirus. Wearing a mask is not a good idea when you are outdoors in the open air.
Walking towards a healthy future
For people that don’t already have an active lifestyle, it’s probably time to adopt a regular exercise program. Walking is a good place to start. It’s a moderate exercise so won’t push your body too far too soon, and doesn’t place stress on your joints – like running does.
If you lost your lust for life during the lockdown and noticed a decline in your mood and energy levels, why not give yourself an endorphin boost and walk your way to health and happiness.
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