Importance of Going for Walks During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has shattered all kinds of societal norms. Now, something as simple as going out for a daily walk has become problematic. Millions of people aren’t sure what to do. Is walking allowed? If it is, can I do it safely? What social distancing guidelines do I need to follow? What other factors come into play?

Well, experts say that as long as we practice reasonable guidelines for social isolation, getting outside and going for walks has probably never been more important. One of the greatest dangers of stay-at-home orders is the negative effect it can have on our ability to stay positive and hopeful in these challenging times.

Going out for a brisk walk oxygenates the brain, gets our endorphins flowing, and can help us maintain a sense of wellbeing. Going for long walks is perfectly safe if the walker remembers to maintain solid social distancing from other people. That means keeping a minimum of six feet of separation between you and other people. The walker should also wear a mask.

Also, the traditional guidelines of walking safely have not gone away simply because the world has turned upside down. That includes using proper footwear to maintain maximum foot health while walking. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends regular walkers should consider arch support shoes to wear during the day in addition to walks for exercise. You can either buy shoes with the arch support that is right for your foot shape or get removable insoles or arch supports. These can be taken in and out to customize how you wear your shoes throughout the day.

Other shoe components to consider include an Achilles tendon protector and a heel collar. The former protects the Achilles tendon by locking the shoe around the heel. The latter cushions the ankle and provides a good fit.

Because of the pandemic, many people report they are walking more than ever. It’s a reaction to the claustrophobia and sense of isolation of lockdown orders. But the ACSM recommends a moderate-intensity workout of 150 minutes per week. An excellent guideline is to walk at a pace of three to four mph for 30 minutes five days per week.

Another way to judge a walking regime comes by way of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee (PAGAC). It suggests that taking 7,000 to 9,000 steps daily is a good way to determine your proper walking workout.

Experts with the PAGAC recommend that walkers go to the CDC website and/or to the information posted by your local city, state or county to ensure you are following social distancing guidelines that geared for the specific area where you live.

It’s well-understood that walking daily is a way to battle obesity and implement weight loss. It can also lower blood pressure and increase the oxygen levels of the blood and capacity of the lungs. However, in these stressful times, it’s the anti-anxiety effect of walking that proves to be this workout’s best benefit.

Hillary Cauthen, Psy.D. of the Association for Applied Sports Psychology said walking releases endorphins and dopamine in the brain which is a terrific countermeasure to the stress hormones that result from anxiety. As we all struggle to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, staying away from sources of infection is key – but keeping a positive attitude and a feeling of hope will get us through these challenging times.

 

So go ahead and go for a good walk every day. Just use common sense while following social distancing guidelines.


Hillary Cauthen, Psy.D. of the Association for Applied Sports Psychology said walking releases endorphins and dopamine in the brain which is a terrific countermeasure to the stress hormones that result from anxiety. As we all struggle to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, staying away from sources of infection is key – but keeping a positive attitude and a feeling of hope will get us through these challenging times.

So go ahead and go for a good walk every day. Just use common sense while following social distancing guidelines.

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