I just returned from an active therapy session with one of my clients, and I have to tell you – I absolutely love when the person I’m working with has an “ah-ha” moment.
This particular client arrived at her session feeling anxious and overwhelmed by certain challenges in her life. Given that it was such a beautiful fall day, I suggested we take our meeting outside, and into the forested trails. I explained that it would be nice to take in some of the fresh air and vibrant fall colours as we sorted through some of her concerns.
I could sense her reluctance at first, but she humored me, and out we went into the sunshine. After about 10 minutes, my client suddenly stopped and declared, “I can’t tell you how good this feels! I can’t remember the last time I took a walk just for me, and I can actually feel some of my stress melting away.” At that moment, in my head, I was screaming “Yes!”
Combining Physical Activity with the Great Outdoors
As some of you know, I’m a huge proponent of physically activity. The benefits of walking for your mind, body, and soul are astounding. Often, however, people need to experience those effects before they begin to understand and believe in them.
So here are the top five reasons I take my clients out to walk and talk whenever they are willing and able:
1. Walking boosts energy and alertness
Sometimes our troubles seem to weigh us down – literally. Walking helps to clear the mental fog we may be experiencing, and also increases our energy levels. The task of actually talking about your concerns suddenly doesn’t seem so daunting. All of this, in turn, improves our capacity to work through our concerns.
2. Walking is cathartic
Without getting into the inner workings and physiology of it all, it’s a simple fact that people become increasingly relaxed and open when they walk. The greater your capacity to speak openly and honestly, the greater success we will have, and the more we can accomplish, therapeutically.
3. Walking reduces stress and improves your mood
Scientists at the UK’s University of Essex found that people’s mood and sense of well-being is boosted significantly with as little as five minutes of outdoor exercise. In other words, physical activity leaves you feeling better able to cope with the stressors that everyday life can throw at you.
4. Walking helps decrease feelings of anxiety and depression
Depression and anxiety are two of the most prevalent mental health disorders in North America. Mild to moderate walking has the potential to lessen a person’s dependability on psychopharmacology.
5. Walking does a body good!
According to researchers, just 30 minutes of walking each day can lead to a dramatic reduction in the risk of dementia, breast and colon cancer, and heart disease. If that’s not reason enough for taking our sessions for a walk, then I don’t know what is!