5 benefits of walking for those who want to do the Way de Santiago

All exercise is good for health. However, walking is one of the simplest to start with. Just leave home and walk to the destination that is always waiting for you. In fact, it is such a beneficial physical activity for the body and mind that ancient philosophers recommend it for those who want to have innovative ideas. Read our article to get inspired to start your journey.

The benefits of walking are already well known. Besides the usual reports suggesting an hour’s walk improves cardiovascular health, it is also fundamental for mental well-being and clarity of thought.

For example, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said in one of his books that “all great ideas are born from a walk”. You’re not alone when it comes to this idea, but we’ll explain it in detail later.

In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of walking, whether physical or psychological, to inspire you to get out of the house and walk the planet earth.

3 peregrinos a colher os benefícios de caminhar.
The yellow scallop shell signing the Way to Santiago de Compostela on the St James pilgrimage route

Following the hypothesis of the writer we talked about earlier, there are studies that prove the link between walking and solving problems instead of waiting for an answer while sitting at a desk.

This is because our brain is in a constant state of action. Even when we are relaxing. That’s why so many creative people have rituals that require them to get out of their work environment and into nature.

The man who revolutionized communication and cell phones as we know them, Steve Jobs, believed that hiking was the best way to come up with new ideas. That’s why, today, Apple’s headquarters has spaces dedicated to this activity.

To explain this phenomenon, Monty Python’s tallest man, John Cleese, has written a book explaining the process in detail. Here, he says that when he started putting his plays down on paper at university, he was never happy with the first result, if he could finish it. However, after a moment’s rest – such as walking – when he returned to the postponed creative activity, he would turn the drafts into pieces of art.

So what may be holding you back from not having great ideas may be the lack of fresh air and exercise. Start walking and transform your productivity.

If you find yourself yawning in the middle of the day, a short 15-minute walk may be just what you need to pace your body. It even works better than the usual coffee upon arrival at the office. It may seem odd, since exercise is supposed to tire you out. However, as studies prove, physical activity leads to:

  • Increased flow of oxygen in the blood, making you more alert;
  • By raising the cardiovascular level, your body knows that it is ready to perform;
  • Increased production of energy hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

In this way, a simple walk can make the difference between a productive day and a lazy afternoon. Let’s get moving!

Exercise is the body and mind’s way of regulating themselves. So the benefits of walking also extend to your mental health. According to the results of various research studies, a few quick steps are enough to improve your mood, lower your risk of depression, and strengthen your well-being.

This is because, as we saw above, when exercising the body releases some important hormones that fight stress and anxiety. For example, serotonin, endorphin, and dopamine, which are related to psychological vitality.

Even better if you walk outside the “city”. By getting away from the hustle and bustle you allow your brain to rest completely. Without the usual distractions, noises, and even minimal cell phone convering signal, upon returning to the normal world you will feel your concentration back to normal and a sense of peace.

So, leaving your area, you will open doors to spaces you never imagined. In fact, anyone who has done the Way to Santiago knows that it is the wondrous landscapes that make us dream of the millennial trail.

However, close to home you may also have forests, woods and parks to explore. All you need is researchers. However, if you don’t feel comfortable going on these adventures without company, know that you can join local groups.

We are talking about groups of walkers that have become increasingly popular. In Sintra, for example, the Monte da Lua Hikers go every week to cover the pedestrian secrets of the municipality, always with someone in charge of the crossing.

Already in Évora, there is also a group with 10 years of experience that host activities, often related to what is happening culturally in the district and in the city.

That said, we leave you the challenge. Why don’t you start your own group to improve your physical dexterity and eventually make the Portuguese Way to Santiago? You can find other pilgrims and people willing to do this journey in our Facebook group .

Another benefit of walking is that there is less chance of injury. For example, unlike running, walking is considered a low-impact sport. That is, the pressure to your body is lower. When touching the ground your feet do so with a lower impact which prevents situations like back pain.

However, even while walking you have to pay close attention to the road and other situations.

  • Walk in good pedestrian areas, avoiding roads or streets with no sidewalks and poor visibility.
  • If you venture into forested or mountainous areas, always go with company and with someone who knows the route.
  • Whether at night or dawn, never forget your reflective vest so that cars can see you.
  • Invest on good footwear to avoid injuries.
  • Maintain constant hydration, during and after the walk.
  • Always use plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned, even on foggy days.

Of course not. Walking helps you to have more strength to hold your backpack on the Santiago trail, and inspires you to have more and better adventures during your life. But now we want to know your opinion, did we miss any important information?

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