Monday, June 8, 2009

Stress? Walk. Chill!

Journal Entry: Weight =173.8; Coinage = $1.73 (two day total) 68 pennies, 10 nickels, 3 dimes, 1 quarter; Glass bottles retrieved = 15; Ground Scores = 18. Significant coinage finds—all of yesterday’s evening walk. Started walking at 7:10 p.m. after arriving from 2,300 miles Texas Farewell Tour, with last leg covering 375 miles. Despite fatigue it felt good to be mining my own territory after 12 days of being on the road. All the hotspots provided a welcome back—hunches, telephone stands, newspaper vendors, drive-throughs, curbs, and parking lots all contributed. This morning I was confused as an attendant at a drive-through car wash. A man fed the machine a five dollar bill but the machine bilked him. Neither the driver nor I could gain a green light or a refund. Buyer beware!

Feature Entry: the benefits of walking are being written about everywhere including the world’s largest circulated magazine, the AARP. The May/June 2009 edition touted “No-Worry Workouts” and listed brisk walking as one of the best exercises for stress relief.

This blog focuses on weight loss/management but stress management is an important goal of the MoneyWalker. It is an understatement that we are living in stressful times. Don’t even talk to me about my 401-K because that just loops into a hundred other fears--real or imagined.

So if you are worried about what the bad economy is doing to your bank account, consider what it’s doing to your health. When feeling stress, your body releases two significant hormones—cortisol and adrenaline. These confused friends cause our heart to speed up and our brains to become more alert. In pre-historic times these were healthy responses because as likely as not, we were in physical danger and needed a “fight or flight” response.

Those days are gone, but we are left with the hormonal response anyway. If not used, these well meaning friends turn into enemies. If the hormones are left to float around, often enough, they contribute to high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, irritability, depression, and sometimes a heightened susceptibility to heart arrhythmias.

And then the bad habit clustering begins. If we feel chronic stress, we are more likely to over eat and make bad food choices.

So why is walking the answer? At least three positive things occur. One, the walking helps you “use up” the extra hormones, especially when you learn the MoneyWalkers favorite walking technique—to zoom. Second, walking as a repetitive motion has been shown to have a calming effect on the body so that less of the harmful hormones are released. Third, after about four minutes of zooming (8 minutes for slower walking) the body begins releasing endorphins, the so-called feel-good hormones.” These true friends relieve pain and enhance mood.

Oh, there is a forth reason, the focused walker finds a surprising amount of coinage during the walk. Finding a coin stimulates the ventral striatum, the reward center of the brain. So reward yourself, take a walk.



  1. Mmmm, I love endorphins. They are almost better than chocolate. (I said almost.)

    Since I began walking five years ago I find myself heading out the door if there is something stressful going on in my life. Also, once I get a good endorphin "high" going it is sometimes hard to quit.

    After reading your post I realized that the true beginning of my walking was five years ago while on the campaign trail for my husband who was running for a local office. Those long hours gave me time alone as well as relieved the stress. And by the way, a Dem in Utah is a rarity, so it was a losing battle right from the start.

    Welcome home. Did you notice that your coinage matched your weight? Nice work.

    Oh, and one more thing: Texas Farewell Tour? Is Texas going somewhere?

  2. As a former Texan (from age 3 to age 29)but now an aging Louisana resident fully aware of mortality, the MoneyWalkers revisited the haunts of our home state of Texas for perhaps the last time. As for Texas leaving, it has had a facelift and was barely recognized. To borrow from the country singer, John Anderson, I sorta liked the old Texas better. For example, the Ft Worth stock yards is now a honky-tonk mall with dozens of Tex-Mex and brisket cafes. As for weight gain/loss, we were pleased to hold our position on the morning scales.