When your joints ache, all you might want to do is stay at home and not move. After all, every step you take could aggravate your painful knees, hips, or shoulders. But it turns out that’s the opposite of what you should be doing. Exercise can be incredibly beneficial by reducing joint pain, improving sleep, boosting energy, and more. An even better idea than going to the gym: Take your workout outside. A walk surrounded by nature, like through a park or nearby woods, can be the perfect way to combat joint pain. Here’s why:
It moves your body.
Walking is low-impact, which means it doesn’t put a lot of strain on your joints but still improves your fitness levels. And if you’re walking on a dirt path, you won’t be putting added pressure on your body that comes from pounding your feet into hard concrete or cement. Try to pick up the pace so that you can have a conversation but are still breathing heavily.
It relaxes your mind.
Feeling stressed can cause your joint pain to worsen, which is why the calming power of nature is so important. Research shows walking in the woods can reduce feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety. It makes sense: How can you not feel more relaxed after half an hour spent surrounded by trees, chirping birds, and fresh air?
It helps you lose weight.
Being overweight can put extra stress on joints like your hips and also raises inflammation in your body—both of which could mean more joint pain. That’s why losing weight is such a good idea—and walking is a great way to do that. Half an hour of brisk walking burns about 150 calories, which, combined with a healthy diet, can be the key to losing weight. In fact, research shows that walking for two and a half hours a week boosts weight loss and reduces belly fat more than just cutting calories.
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