Nerds, listen up.
There’s a new app on the market and so far (out of a very limited sampling bias of my personal friends who are pretty much just as nerdy as I am) 10 out of 10 doctors recommend it. It’s called Pokemon Go- and the premise of the game is that you need to get outside and walk. Ok, the actual premise of the game is an augmented reality that encourages you to catch little pokemon pocket monsters and then make them cooler than everyone else’s pokemon, but to do that you have to walk A LOT.
And people are totally doing it! I was so pleased to see people playing it when I took the kids out for our normal stroll. The game has many built in rewards for walking, and the distance needed to make the walk “worth it” is variable- and that helps your brain associate walking with rewards as well as keep it interesting, since you can’t reliably win by simply walking around the block.
Why am I and my friends all so excited about this though? Regular walking is so important for your health. Walking everyday will help you:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Now, I’m not talking about numbers, which are measuring merely the pull that earth exerts on your body. I’m talking about how you feel when you’re moving in your body. Being fit and at a healthy weight decreases joint pain and other inflammation problems.
- Prevent or manage tons of health complications like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A good diet and a healthy amount of exercise is the foundation for helping your body heal, especially from chronic disease.
- Strengthen your bones which, particularly for teenagers and children, may prevent osteoporosis in their later years.
- Improve your mood. Exercise is as effective as many of the other first line therapies for mild to moderate depression and anxiety, like counseling and even some pharmaceutical management.
- Improve your balance and coordination. Everyone could use a little more grace
- Help you sleep better and longer. Not only does exercise help you feel tired enough to sleep, taking a mid afternoon walk in bright sunlight helps reset your body’s internal clock- the circadian rhythm- by helping your pituitary gland make melatonin.
- Help you adapt to stress more easily. Walking helps your body manage the stress hormone, cortisol, more easily. Bonus, better managed cortisol has a host of good effects too- like better blood sugar levels and improved memory.
Plus, the more you get out there and walk, the more helpful walking will be for your health. Research shows that exercise programs that last more than 9 weeks have the best effects for mental health treatment, so get out there and level up more than just your pokemon- Level up your health!