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The top 5 health benefits of walking through Winter

February 6, 2020

Author: Dr David Brown, Doctor of Chiropractic and Clinic Director at Proback Clinics Surbiton, enjoying his winter walks with Jacob!

 

As you gaze out at another blustery day, walking can seem like a habit best enjoyed in the summer-time months. However, research shows that a regular saunter will help you stroll through winter in better health. Let’s see how…

 

1.    Calm joint pain

Many of our patients report increased stiffness and painful joints in the colder weather, especially those with arthritis. This may be due to tumbling temperatures and changes in barometric pressure. A study published in the journal Clinical Interventions Aging found that when people walked regularly they “had more confidence in their ability to do things, were less depressed, had lower scores on health distress, and were in less pain from their arthritis.”

As research points out, a reduction in physical pain has positive knock on effects for various aspects of wellbeing. Being able to move more easily benefits gait by allowing correct motion of joints and limbs. This can reduce spinal compensations and enhance health and healing.

 

2.    Enhance your mood

Seasonal affective disorder, commonly known by its acronym SAD, is a form of depression that is more prevalent in the colder months. While the cause is not definitely understood, the National Health Service (NHS) notes a link to reduced sunlight exposure and its impacts on the hormones, melatonin and serotonin, and the body’s internal clock.

A simple recommendation for boosting your mood includes exercising outdoors, particularly during daylight hours. Add in mindfulness meditation as you walk and you’ll enhance your frame of mind further without additional effort.

 

3.    Burn calories

As the sleet falls and the light diminishes, so can our motivation to move. On top of reduced energy use, reaching for calorie-laden comfort food becomes the norm and we can gain weight accordingly. Walking is an often overlooked and important sources of calorie expenditure that is accessible even in the winter months. To assess the number of calories burnt during a session, use the Keisan online calculator.

 

4.    Spark your immune system

The NHS reports that asthma, cold sores, flu and a tender throat are more frequent visitors during winter time. Yet the occurrence of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), a cause of a scratchy throat, can be reduced by aerobic exercise.

The study ‘Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults’, found that engaging in exercise five or more times per week dropped the number of days an URTI was present by a staggering 43%. Pounding the pavement also lessened severity and symptoms.

 

5.    Boost your sixth sense

Proprioception is sometimes described as the sixth sense. It enables us to know where we are in space; to innately perceive the action, location, and movement of each of our parts. When we imbibe too much Christmas cheer, this system falters and we wobble and, potentially, fall. But there is more to proprioception than remaining upright.

Proprioceptors, the sensors of this system, live in the joints, muscles and skin. They are found in the spine in our facet joints, intervertebral discs, ligaments, and muscles. When spinal mechanics are altered, proprioceptive input is, too. This, in turn, changes how our body moves and can have serious health impacts; Making spinal motion key to brain function.

 

“90 percent of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine”
– Dr Roger Sperry, Nobel Prize Laureate

 

Wonderfully, as we walk we engage proprioception. This, in combination with Chiropractic care, enables our sixth sense to work well. Our body and brain can then follow.

 

Walking is a form of movement the human body was perfectly designed for. For eons, this activity has allowed us freedom and fitness. As we travel on foot, we engage complex systems that promote body and brain function, improve mood, burn calories, quell pain, enhance immune function and drive proprioception, a crucial biological process. This winter, schedule walking into your daily rou-tine and watch as the benefits mount.

 

And remember if your finding your stride is being hampered by persistent aches and pains then book an appointment today with your ProBack Practitioner to open up a world of walking!