by Professor Lynn Basford
Why walking in sunshine is so good for you before your surgery.
Do you feel good when you have been in nature out in the sunshine, even for just ten minutes?
Well a plethora of research studies have extolled the virtues of this simple low impact exercise. For example walking regularly has been shown to:
- strengthen your heart and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 27%;
- reduce the risk of type two diabetes by 60%;
- improves non pollen induced asthma;
- reduce the risk of some cancers by 20%, chiefly, colon, breast and uterus;
- keep weight in check- a person weighing 60kg burns 75 calories simply by strolling at 2mph for 30mins!
- Increase muscle mass and tone;
- Help reduce the incidence of dementia, or indeed slow down the progression of the disease.
- Walking makes you feel happy and increases your energy levels. It is a known antidote for depression!
- Provides you with the all important Vitamin D-Vitamin D is a micro nutrient that is important in bone and muscle health and overall immunity.
Prior to any surgery your immune system is compromised due to stress. When your body is in a stressed state your ability to heal quickly from the traumas of the surgery is limited. It is well known that when we are calmer and in control and incorporate a daily walk releases endorphins in the blood stream; thus having the effect of reducing your stress and anxiety.
One of the best ways to prepare for surgery is simply to begin to take a walk every day.
If you are not a walker how do you begin?
- First set yourself a challenge, five minutes a day, outside, walking at your own pace.
- If you do not want to do this on your own enlist a family member or friend, you are much more likely to go outside if pre arranged with someone else.
- Before you set off on your walk, take three big deep breathes, increasing oxygen in your system.
- Give yourself a milestone, to the woods, around the block, whatever, just do it NOW! No pontificating, no excuses.
- Know your ability to recover from surgery will improve, your mood will improve, your muscle strength will improve and so on.
- Mark out on a calendar how many days to surgery, keep a journal as to how you feel and any improvements you notice.
- If you have a month, increase the minutes you spend on your walk to ten, then fifteen to twenty throughout the month.
- If you have longer to wait, take in some form of walking meditation, or walking with ski sticks. chiefly increase your challenge.
Meditation in Action
Walking meditation is meditation in action. When we do walking meditation, we are using the physical, mental, and emotional experience of walking as the basis of developing greater awareness. The key essence is that you become consciously aware of your whole being whilst walking. Removing any mind chatter and negative thoughts and instead replacing them with thoughtfulness during the normal act of walking.
The great thing about walking meditation is that you can do it anytime you are walking — even in the noise and bustle of a big city.
To begin with take short steps in a completely relaxed state. Go slowly, one foot in front of the other with a smile on your lips; your heart and senses open to the experience. Be at one with yourself, focus on a feeling of peace. With each foot you place on the ground feel strong and secure.
In our daily lives, we usually feel pressured to move ahead. We have to hurry. We seldom ask ourselves where it is that we must hurry to. So just for today, do not hurry, do not anger, just be, it is your time, your ME time.
In our daily lives our steps are burdened with anxieties, the negative pulls on our lives that often makes us feel insecure and ungrounded. So often we do not see the beauty in nature, the weeds full of flowers the wind in our hair and on our skin.
JUST FOR NOW OPEN UP YOUR SENSES, hear the bird call, the rustle of the leaves, the sun on your face…..
Undertaking walking meditation should not be planned. Just lose yourself in the moment, in the act of walking and be free of the desire to arrive anywhere in particular. If thoughts come in, acknowledge them and let them go – drift away into the clouds and beyond.
By slowing down whilst walking, you reduce your heart rate/blood pressure and release endorphins that are mood enhancers. You can shake off worries, the what if scenarios, leaving them behind with your footprints. Walk with a purpose that each new step brings joy, peace and happiness. In this way you will feel all is well.
To practice walking meditation is to practice living in mindfulness. To do this in preparation prior to your surgery means you can continue this art during your recovery phase and beyond.
GO FOR IT!