Take a Walk in The Park
Walking improves stamina, energy, heart health, strength, and balance. As a form of exercise walking may even alter the physical and brain changes that occur with Parkinson’s over time. Walking can also help the mind and the soul. Research tells us that exercise including simply just walking, can protect our thinking abilities as we get older and protect from disease…
· Reduce cognitive decline that can happen with aging
· Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease a form of dementia that attacks memory and thinking skills
· Reduce the decline executive function in Parkinson’s. (Learn more about executive function.)
Walking can also be good for our emotions and our soul. We have long known that exercise can help our mood and treat depression. A walk in the park is like getting a double dose of therapy.
John Muir, a naturalist and nature lover once wrote,
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
In a time when many of us are flocking to gyms, joining exercise classes or getting on the treadmill to get in ‘their exercise’, we may be missing an opportunity to move and feel well. Researchers evaluating the effect of walking on our mood showed that a walk in the park improved mood more than a similar walk in the shopping mall. Our environment affects how we feel, think, move and behave. Think about a walk in the park on a beautiful sunny day and the feeling and experience that comes to mind
· The fresh air sharpens the senses and clears the mind of clutter
· The marvel and good natured fun of watching nature
· The stress dissolving effect of the peaceful calm of a gentle breeze
· The sense of hope and anticipation that comes with the first spring buds.
· The reflection of days past and what brings joy to us in life as we watch the sun set
· The challenge and sure footedness of walking that is gained from walking on uneven ground
· The chance to slow down, share your walk and connect with a loved one
· The energizing feel of the sun
· The joy and reminder that little things like a bird’s song or child’s laughter are important in life
· The soothing effect of the sun’s warmth on our back
The benefits of nature are available to us all. The power of exercise in Parkinson’s, healthy aging and emotional wellbeing are undisputed. Enhance this power by taking your next exercise activity outdoors. Whether you take a stroll in your wheelchair in the park, take a walk around the block or a short stroll in your backyard, the benefit of nature is priceless.
Author: Monique Giroux, MD
Copyright 2013 Northwest Parkinson's Foundation Wellness Center