According to Dr Ashish Bhatia the answer is a resounding yes!
Dr Bhatia is a Bristol based GP with a holistic approach to improving health. He’s on a mission to show how making simple changes to our daily routine can dramatically improve our lives and has formed an organisation called Humble, a mix of multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals who work together to make us happier and healthier.
He is a self-professed geek, fascinated with what happens to the chemicals in our body as we walk and move, and at the end of this blog there’s a link to his 5 minute ‘Life Saver Walk’ which can change your neural and chemical pathways in a surprisingly powerful way. Try it and see how good it makes you feel.
We asked Dr Bhatia to explain the science behind what happens to our body and brain when we walk and what he thinks about Nordic walking..
“Humans regularly need to connect with nature, our bio-rhythms and our physical selves to feel good and thrive, plus we need time for headspace, good relationships and strong physical health. All these essential facets of life are nurtured by walking.
Our bodies are nourished when we move, depleted when we don’t. We are highly efficient at redirecting energy and resources, and as an example, if we don’t use our muscles, the energy from those muscles will be redeployed elsewhere in the body, ie as fat in the stomach.
Similarly, using your muscles not only makes you look and feel better, they are important metabolic engines which boost mental and physical health. An example are interleukins which are produced through daily life.
They can inflame the body to produce a myriad of diseases – cancer, dementia, even anxiety and depression. But the act of walking changes the pathway of this glycoprotein from a negative chemical, into a more beneficial chemical to help you sleep better.
Using muscles also releases Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, a chemical released into your brain to keep it healthy, youthful, helping to stave off dementia and makes it easier to learn and retain information.
We were designed to move, but if you can integrate walking with other practices (like the Lifesaver Walk) you can get a synergistic effect. Your cravings for alcohol, sweet foods or even social media can be switched off, and you’ll crave more walking instead.
Nordic walking can bring even more benefits. Humans used to have to walk at faster speeds and use their arms in a much more physical way to survive.
Nordic walking integrates both of these crucial missing aspects and there is a whole branch of healthcare called ‘cross crawling’ and ‘extended walking’ which does a similar thing, broadening body circuitry, inflating lungs more efficiently and reprogramming neurobiology and musculature.
Nordic walking is also great way of looking after our knees as we’re not meant to be walking on concrete as much as we do. We’re designed to walk on softer and more variable terrain, so reducing impact can be positive.
And walking with others is beneficial as it delivers a powerful boost to the immune system. The group dynamic actually dampens down harmful inflammation through our dopamine, noradrenalin, cortisol and testosterone circuits. And perhaps most importantly, Nordic walking is a healthy habit we can enjoy and actually stick with!”
Absolutely fascinating we’re sure you’ll agree.
So why not put on your earphones and start the day tomorrow with Dr Bhatia’a Lifesaver Walk (watch here). It could transform the rest of your day, your week and even your life!
To find out more about Humble visit www.humble.info.
The Bristol & Bath Nordic Walking Team
You can find our favourite Nordic walking poles here and if you’re looking for our advice on best walking kit here’s our recommendations:
walking socks (an important but forgotten factor)