Walking was said to be a “kind of therapy” for President John Adams. He is one of my favourite US presidents and he offers wonderful musings and lessons that we can learn from. What President Adams inspired the John Adams Health Walk.
“The ultimate goal of the John Adams Health Walk Committee, chaired by Dowling, is to have the City of Quincy establish a fitness trail in honor of the founding father. The committee thinks he’s earned it: Adams died in 1826 at age 90 — plus 247 days — and was the nation’s longest-living president until Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, who both died at 93.
‘And that was without the aid of modern medicine,’ says Dowling, who is a certified dietitian and diabetes educator.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, something as simple as walking can be a natural remedy for anxiety, panic, and depression.
Walking can be a great overall mood enhancer, and a number of other benefits such as helping the body release endorphins which can serve as a mood elevator. It also helps stabilize mood.
Another intriguing study I came across appeared in the February 22 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
“Researchers analyzed the results of 40 randomized clinical trials involving nearly 3,000 patients with a variety of medical conditions. They found that, on average, patients who exercised regularly reported a 20 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms compared to those who did not exercise.‘ Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that physical activities such as walking or weight lifting may turn out to be the best medicine that physicians can prescribe to help their patients feel less anxious,’ said lead author Matthew Herring, a doctoral student in the department of kinesiology, part of the UGA College of Education.”
I first began walking for anxiety on a daily basis after experiencing my first few panic attacks. As I continued this process, I would notice every now and then that I would just experience a moment of spontaneous happiness.
What is the evidence for walking as a natural remedy for anxiety?
Walking is very helpful for anxiety but it is something that’s very good in many other ways. I came across something very interesting from Harvard Health Publications, from Harvard Medical School. Two scientists from University College London performed a meta-analysis of research published between 1970 and 2007. They found that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31%, and cut the risk of dying during the study period by 32%.
The Harvard publication also states that “walking improves cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress.” It goes on to state that “Walking and other moderate exercise programs also help protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction.”
Aside from the physical and emotional benefits described, the experience of being outside with nature can be extremely powerful. It allows you to take in the sights, smells, sounds and feeling of the breeze. Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., attributes the loss of connection from the outside world as one of the causes of depression. Walking for anxiety is one key recommendation by many psychologists.
Walking can also open up your creativity to generate new ideas. Whether it’s something related to a project you’re working on, or even a problem or something that’s been bothering you. You will probably have moments of clarity where the solution to a problem just seems to come to you while you are walking. I think that it can be a great way to unleash your creative side for a variety of things.
Here are 10 good reasons use walking as a natural remedy for anxiety:
- Walking doesn’t cost any money.
- It doesn’t require you to learn any special technique.
- It doesn’t require any special equipment.
- You can do it alone or with others.
- It can make you feel better.
- It can make you physically healthier too.
- You can do it at any age. If you start walking now, it’s something you’ll likely be able to keep up into your golden years and beyond.
- It’s a great routine.
- It gives you something to look forward to
- It can be a great motivation for others to become physically active. Your routine of walking for anxiety, and walking in general, can serve as a great example to others and improve their lives too.
There are many more effective things that I would like to share to help you break free from anxiety, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. You can get started for free by joining my newsletter below.
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References and Further Reading (Walking As a Natural Remedy for Anxiety)
Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. Mayo Clinic.
Retrieved January 30, 2012, from:
Dishman, R.K., Herring, M.P. & O’Connor P.J. The Effect of Exercise Training on Anxiety Symptoms Among Patients: A Systematic Review.Arch Intern Med, 2010; 170 (4): 321-331
Accessible via: http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/170/4/321
(2009). Harvard Health Publications. Walking: Your Steps to Health Retrieved from:
Burnett, E. (Reporter). (2011, November 16). Dr. Andrew Weil and Spontaneous Happiness. [Television Series Episode] Erin Burnett OutFront. Atlanta, Georgia: CNN. Accessible via:
(2014). Boston Globe. Health Walk inspired by President Adams. Retrieved from: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/south/2014/04/19/john-adams-health-walk-quincy-continues-early-president-advocacy-exercise/ZcZ8xmn3kc8ZMRBPPKO75H/story.html