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mental health, walking, athlete, training, fitnessOver the last thirty days, our world has changed on a fundamental level. What once was our regular routine has, for most of us, been distilled down to the four walls of our residence. Combined, of course, with occasional trips to the grocery store to resupply.

If you are a close follower of One with the Water, or merely a resident of Los Angeles, you know that all the public pools are closed. This has affected our livelihood, yes, but fundamentally our way of life. For many of you, your livelihood has been impacted, too, causing more anxiety, fear, and worry on top of the stress of avoiding the virus.

Maintaining mental health.

The specter of depression and poor mental health in this unprecedented season is very real for many, many people. And of course, the very things that help the most – community, counseling, exercising at a gym, swimming at the pool – are the things we’ve lost as a way to cope.

The good news? There is hope. There is still a myriad of simple ways to use exercise safely to keep our mental and physical health from spiraling downward. Over the next few weeks, we will focus on different activities that can be done from home to improve and maintain physical fitness and a positive mental outlook.

Start walking.

mental health, walking, walking dog, training, fitness, leash

Start with walking. Researchers from St. George University in London found in one 2015 study that just 25 minutes of energetic walking can add up to 7 years of life and slow the aging process in our bodies. Walking is a great way to start and maintain a moderate fitness level. (Plus, your furry friends may be really grateful for the added attention and exercise too!)

Experts agree that just 30 minutes of walking a day can improve your body composition, creating a higher muscle to fat ratio, decrease blood sugar, decrease the body fat around the waist, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure – all of which lead to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and Type II diabetes.

And critically, in this particular season, moderate to intense aerobic workouts release the natural compound endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals produced in your brain. Increased endorphin levels work to lower stress, increase pleasure, and reduce or manage pain. In addition, the release of endorphins can help to significantly lower anxiety and relieve depression. For a detailed description of an ideal walking program done to improve conditioning, read Coach Rippetoe’s recommendations here.

The bonus? Walking requires no expensive equipment, can be done with the added addition of music that buoys you up and can be done with a partner while still maintaining a safe social distance of the CDC recommended six feet.

Friends, we are all in this together. Check-in with each other, maintain accountability, and start walking!

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