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Walk to Improve Your Mood

"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking"--Friedrich Nietzsche


In 1983, I was a teenaged devotee of a televised aerobic exercise program called The 20 Minute Workout. It was the height of the 80s fitness craze and at thirteen, I desperately wanted to be as thin as the actresses in the hit movie Little Darlings. By 1989, I knew I could be healthy and attractive without being skinny, still I joined a succession of gyms to “define” my arms.

Today I haven’t watched an exercise show or been a member of a gym in years, yet my desire to exercise has not diminished. Now I walk around a track or a nearby park for an hour at least three days a week, mainly because walking makes me *feel* fantastic.

People who lead sedentary lifestyles are more likely to feel depressed and anxious than those who exercise writes Robert K Cooper in Get Out of Your Own Way: The 5 Keys to Surpassing Everyone’s Expectations.

“Get up regularly and move,” Cooper urges. “Any type of muscular activity stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and helps keep your alertness high.”

If you need an emotional lift or to blow off some steam after a stressful day experts from the Mayo Clinic say a workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. According to an article on the clinic’s website, “Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.”

I’ve found that I can think things over and solve problems while walking. With all of those wonderful exercise induced brain chemicals (the website Walkingforhappiness.com identifies the chemicals as Serotonin, Dopamine and Endorphins) doing their thing I contemplate the days, weeks and months ahead. I think about my goals, brainstorm ideas and organize upcoming family events. Exercise even bolsters my creativity. Sometimes when I walk, whole paragraphs for stories just come to me seemingly out of the blue.

While I’ve discovered many other reasons to stay true to my 29 year exercise habit, my original reason for working out remains. I want to be in shape! The Mayo Clinic article (which is called “7 benefits of regular physical activity”) states that “You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.”

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