As we continue with an increase in COVID-19 cases by the omicron variant, the importance of physical activity including walking as part of one’s daily regimen is an important consideration.
Leon County and the surrounding Big Bend area contain a wide variety of locations to enjoy the outdoors. The simple act of getting out and walking can improve both our physical as well as our mental health and assist us in achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight.
Data indicate that many of those who are affected most adversely by COVID-19 are those who have additional disease (such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and similar maladies).
Steps to reduce stress
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, or current fitness level.
Exercise (including walking) releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. If you exercise regularly, it can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and help with recovery from mental health issues.
Physical activity or exercise can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits.
Most importantly, regular activity may provide important benefits related to one’s overall health and assist with one’s resilience with regards to disease.
Make it a new habit
Obviously, we need to take into account all the necessary precautions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention including immunizations, social distancing when outside and use of masks when recommended by science-based evidence.
A past column related to the benefits of physical activity and in particular, walking with a focus on addressing obesity concerns. The situation today has not improved and, in today’s environment with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of physical activity for our long-term overall well-being is even more important.
Establishing this habit can help provide an overall improved quality of life through following a healthier lifestyle approach.
Pair with a balanced diet
In addition to establishing the long-term habit of increased physical activity including walking, the importance of a well-balanced diet should also form part of this lifestyle approach.
Together, a healthful diet and regular physical activity can help people:
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer
Strengthen the muscles, bones, and joints
Improve mood and energy levels
Physical activity basics including recommendation by age group are available at cdc.gov/physicalactivity.
A good resource on ideas for maintaining social distancing while being active from the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity is accessible at
An open-access resource on medical and health sciences entitled, “Does Walking Help with Mental Health Problems?” can be accessed at news-medical.net.
Let’s all make a New Year’s resolution to be more physically active in 2022. As noted earlier, the simple act of a regular walking routine can produce very positive benefits.
Be safe and focus on following science-based evidence and “best practices.” Happy moving!
Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D. has been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for over 35 years and completed graduate studies in Nutrition & Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Walk your way to improved physical, mental well-being