It’s spring! What a wonderful time to uncurl from the blankets and stop hibernating!
Walking is such a wonderful way to bring activity into your day, something that is easy, free and very enjoyable!
Walking has been shown to improve heart and lung function, aid in weight loss, decrease bone loss and give us benefits in mood boost, alertness and energy levels.
Let’s talk about the benefits of walking for your spine!
Increase circulation to the spine
When we exercise, blood needs to be pumped to your muscles.
The blood flow brings nutrients constantly to your muscles and carries away waste products.
This increases your circulation which helps nourish all the tissues around your body.
Helps rehydrate spinal discs
Our daily movement, especially sitting causes compression on the discs in our spines.
When our discs are compressed, water is squeezed out of the discs which cushion between our vertebrae.
The discs in our spine act a bit like a sponge – squeezing and releasing them helps expel waste products and draw in nutrients and water.
Our discs rehydrate when we are laying down, i.e. sleeping at night. Better circulation during the day leads to better rehydration at night.
Movement such as walking loads and unloads the discs as we move, creating that sponge-like pumping action that also helps to hydrate your discs.
Improves postural position
Activating muscles when your exercising builds strength which allows improvement to your posture during the day.
When you walk properly, you will maintain an upright position which allows you to breath better. This is associated with reduced fatigue and a clearer mind.
Getting into a good motion when walking can even be used as a mindfulness exercise. Focussing on breathing or on your surrounds is very grounding and can even assist with a more relaxed state.
Relieves spinal stress and back pain
Walking is a low impact exercise that assists with improving flexibility.
This, accompanied with stretching, are two really simple things that can improve range of motion and reduce stiffness.
Walking can also aid in weight management, which will reduce the force on the spinal joints, keeping you in better condition long term.
Where do I start?
There are so many ways that we can increase walking in our daily activity.
Parking further away, saving on money and increasing steps, doing a lap of the house before coming in. Whatever you choose, it has to work for you.
Self-motivated choices will always be more effective in creating and keeping habits. We have all heard the 10 000 steps which works out to around 90 minutes of walking a day.
This could be a big jump especially if you’re not doing a lot currently. Start a realistic goal of 5000 steps and increase from there.
Breaking it up into small chunks 4×20 walks will get you most of the way to 10000 steps which sounds much more manageable.
Going for a walk and taking a phone call can be an excellent way of combining activities. Go on, call your mum!
Finding something that works for you is the best way to maintain consistency in achieving your goals.
Listening to music, walking with a guided meditation or simply enjoying your surroundings are all additional ways to find pleasure in your movement.
At Canberra Spine Centre, we help lots of people to recover normal function, feel great and get back into activities such as walking again.
If you want to get back into walking or some other activity but have concerns, please call us on (02) 6257 9400.
If you would like some more information about the spine and nervous system and how it relates to your health, please check out the other articles on our Facebook page or go to our website: www.spinecentre.com.au.
Also, make sure you read the other interesting articles we post on getting active this month.