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Walk yourself happy

When was the last time you took a long, brisk walk? A long, brisk walk in a tempo that was high enough to raise your pulse and make you sweaty? In the beginning of 2015 I turned this into a daily routine, because I wanted to lose some weight. I walked 8-10 km almost every day.

(It worked great for losing weight by the way. Powerwalks or other exercise combined with a commitment to write down everything I eat into an app like Lifesum is the only thing that ever worked for me when I've wanted to lose weight.)

But I also gained something else. I discovered how mind-cleansing and happiness-inducing walking can be. Some of my best creative thinking takes place while walking, and I always get my best ideas when either walking or running.

Another realisation I made back in January of 2015, was that a long and high-pace powerwalk can be as endorphin and serotonin-inducing as a run or a weightlifting session. Earlier I had the belief that walking was not intense enough to get these natural drugs. But it is! It simply feels great. It is de-stressing. I calm down when I walk, and I feel great afterwards. It is a habit I can recommend to anyone, especially if you don't find the time or energy to do heavier exercise on a regular basis. Walking might be all you need to step up your health and mental well-being.

Homework

If you want to try this habit of regular powerwalks, I suggest you decide to do it for at least two weeks, at least five days a week, so that you get going. Otherwise you might not appreciate what it can do for you over time, and you might write it off before really giving it a chance.

Walk for at least 30 minutes each time, and try to hold a tempo where you either get sweaty or are on the verge of getting sweaty. A good way to accomplish this is to move your arms a lot. Yeah I know, you might feel like you look stupid. But that is a small price to pay for improved mood, productivity and health, right? :)

I suggest you do your powerwalk early in the morning – try going up an hour earlier than you usually do, and do your walk before breakfast. Such a powerful start of any day! Or, second best, I would say is to take an hourlong powerwalk a couple of hours after dinner. That way your stomach isn't completely full, but you still have some time afterwards to get home, take a shower, and wind down before going to bed.

This is the perfect habit if you want to get some of the benefits of a "real" workout programme, but aren't prepared right now to invest in a gym card, exercise equipment, or the sheer self-discipline required for regular heavy exercise. It is also perfect when you want to exercise, but don't want to strain your body. Maybe you feel like you are about to catch a cold, or you are slightly overtrained – then a powerwalk is the perfect in-betweener in your regular exercise schedule.

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