The Walk to Wellness Challenge will get you in shape physically and mentally for the best summer yet. With predictions that the world could start opening up as more people are vaccinated, it’s time to ensure you have the mindset and physical stamina to enjoy the start of the roaring 20s. Even if your corner of the world doesn’t open up, these benefits will still improve your overall health, mood, and summer.
There’s no better way to get in shape than with a health challenge approved by a leading board-certified physician. With the challenge, you can walk your way to better health and less stress in four weeks. The goal is to walk 20 minutes (minimum) in nature each day. Walking outside provides the added benefits of decreased stress, pulse rate, muscle tension, and negative emotions compared to indoor exercise. This creates a positive association with exercise, which could lead to a love for working out long term.
This challenge will:
- Decrease stress
- Improve overall mood
- Create a positive connection to exercise
- Deliver all the benefits of working out daily
Additionally, you won’t be doing this challenge alone. Working towards a new goal, especially a health related one, without accountability can be tough. With that in mind, I created a Facebook community and email motivation around the challenge so no matter where you are or what social distancing measures are in place, you can complete the challenge in an international community of like-minded individuals.
With this challenge, I’ll provide you with:
- A printable PDF tracker to keep tabs on your progress
- Weekly motivation delivered right to your inbox
- A Facebook community to help you connect with others doing the challenge
The challenge will run from April 12th-May 12th as it can take about a month to form a new habit. But you can join that Facebook community now, register for the free tracker and weekly emails, and check out my other socials to follow my own journey with the challenge!
The Health Benefits
The Walk to Wellness challenge will impact both your physical and mental health. Physically, walking will reduce stress, reduce muscle tension, and reduce your pulse rate. Most physical activity will do that, whether indoors or outdoors, but walking is a great way to get into exercising if you’re looking to build up a habit. Mentally, exercise can also improve your overall mood and decrease stress levels. Physical movement can make you happier and less stressed!
Exercising outside has an added benefit that walking indoors does not. If you can ditch the gym to workout outside, research says you should do it.
Even being in nature, whether you exercise or not, can have lasting impacts on your health. One Japanese study found that just viewing plants altered EEG recordings and reduced stress, fear, anger, sadness, blood pressure, pulse rate and muscle tension. Another found that within five minutes of viewing a natural setting, changes in your blood pressure, pulse rate, muscle tension, and electrical activity within your brain occur. And a third found that the level of pollutants, including particulate matter 10, often present in air pollution and smoke, was about six times greater indoors than the exerciser would have received outdoors.
More surprisingly, a study from 2010, found a significant reason to take your exercise outdoors, especially if you’re someone who has trouble maintaining an exercise habit. This study surveyed two groups, one who exercised indoors and one who exercised outdoors, over a period of time. While both groups had the same physical benefits, the group who exercised outdoors enjoyed it more and were more likely to want to exercise again.
This means that if you struggle to enjoy exercise, outdoor movement might help. If you want to make it a habit but haven’t been able to, try exercising outside!
Why 20 minutes?
Another study from 2019 found 20 minutes to be the optimal (minimum) time to spend in nature in order to decrease stress. A group of urban dwellers were given a “nature pill” to spend time outside, first spending 10 minutes outside and then increasing to 20-30 minutes per day. 20-30 minutes a day was found to significantly reduce cortisol levels compared to 10 minutes a day.
So many of us spend so much time indoors and while it’s great to green the indoors, it’s also important to get outside and get moving!
This challenge is based on a collection of research around EcoMedicine, or nature therapy. Nature therapy is such a diverse field full of all sorts of techniques that might be right for you and your symptoms. Walking 20 minutes a day in nature is a great way to expose yourself to this field and to the healing properties of natural wellness.
Plus almost anyone has 20 minutes to exercise. You could replace your nightly Netflix session with a stroll or your social media scroll during your lunch break with a walk with coworkers (including furry coworkers if you’re working remotely!). When you invite friends and family to do the challenge with you, the community aspect of the challenge will grow tenfold and daily walks might even strengthen your relationships with loved ones.
If you’re struggling with emotional stress or pain and haven’t been making the progress you’d like, you spend too much time inside, or you struggle to maintain a good exercise routine, this challenge might be for you! It could be a great first step towards living your happiest and healthiest life and maintaining that lifestyle long-term instead of as a “health kick.”
And for the community aspect, remember to:
- Join the Facebook group
- Register so you get the weekly emails and the free PDF tracker delivered to your inbox
- Connect on Instagram and Twitter as well as in the Facebook group to get some of my best tips and tricks along the way
Remember: EcoMedicine is a far more diverse and practical field of medicine than people might realize—it’s much more than just “going outside!”—and so the purpose of my blogs is to show you the exciting range, diversity, and nuance of the many therapeutic interventions that fall under its umbrella.
Get ready for the happiest, healthiest summer of your life now with the Walk to Wellness challenge!