Stressed? Try walking it off…

Workplace programmes which encourage employees to be more physically active not only reduce their employees’ body mass index (BMI), body fat, high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol), and blood pressure, these programmes also alleviate anxiety and depression and improve psychological mood and absenteeism among employees.

Recent research even suggests that physical activity can be as effective as medication at alleviating depression. And the lastest news is that the more we exercise as we age, the less likely we are to be depressed. In fact, the current theory is that exercise protects our brain from the fallout of chronic stress — depression. Just a month ago, a study revealed that we can keep our brains agile with only 75 minutes of exercise a week.

In short, exercise is an excellent strategy for managing stress.

Why? Because exercise allows the release of endorphins which is associated with positive mood, causes an increase in temperature in specific brain regions resulting in muscle relaxation, and makes more neurotransmitters — serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenalin — available, which in turn helps us manage our emotions. Explore the theory about how exercise improves mental health here

We can’t promise that we won’t become a hot sweaty mess when we exercise. But exercise need not be the unpleasant experience we associate with school PE lessons. Music and movement classes along with zumba are an easy choice, especially with a wide range of dance classes available for newbies in the upcoming October da:ns festival.

There’s an even easier choice! It’s called putting one foot in front of the other and repeating it over and over. Research shows that those who walk get better sleep. And combining walking with spending time outdoors is even better. Going for nature walks helps people experience less stress (maybe because spending time in a natural environment seems to lower our stress hormones) giving rise to us experiencing better mental health. Read this article to learn more…

So we suggest some ways to feel good which involve walking:

  1. You don’t like the outdoors and sweating. So go walking in the comfortable aircon gallery of the new Pinocotheque next to Fort Canning. Their current feature exhibition on the Myth of Cleopatra runs till 4th October.
  2. You don’t like the glaring sun, UV rays, and sunscreen. Join in the festivities and view the exhibits of the upcoming Singapore Night Festival which stretches from the National Museum, Singapore Art Museum, to the National Design Centre and starts this weekend. There are even interactive workshops and an artists’ bazaar at the Green next to Dhoby Ghaut MRT on 29th and 30th August.
  3. Walking in the same neighbourhood park is boring. It’s the same all the time. Visit the current floral display “From Tales to Legends: Discover Singapore Stories”  at the Flower Dome in Gardens by the Bay (on till 13 Sept). It’s still SG50!
  4. You find shopping and art galleries too much of a passive pursuit. Instead, you could challenge yourself in a photography competition. Take part in the Canon Photomarathon this Saturday 22nd August at Marina Bay Sands (plenty of ground to cover there). Prizes include cameras, tripods, and other accessories!
  5. You don’t have a camera and you’re not into Instagram. You could instead bring along your sketchbook, watercolours, colour pencils, and markers for a SG Heart Map Sketch in the Botanic Gardens this Saturday 22nd August. If you don’t have art supplies, fret not. Sketching materials are provided on this special sketchwalk!
  6. Art and photography aren’t the kind of things you find yourself good at. And you like having people to walk with. Join the Singapore Footprints guided tour around Chinatown on Saturdays at 9.15am (sign up at the Chinatown Visitor Centre). Their other guided tour is along the Singapore River which starts at 4.15pm at Raffles Place MRT every Saturday and Sunday.