How walking can help you get a better night’s sleep (go to bed with a clear head)

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Walking hiking

Insights that will help you sleep better, that’s what journalist Catelijne  is looking for. Together with writer Deborah Freriks she made the book ‘ This book will help you sleep better (and it will make you prettier) ‘. She shares her discoveries. Because she grants everyone a better night’s sleep.

What effect does walking have on your health?

Walking is boring, right!? Why go for a walk when you can skydive, Instagram, surf, drink gin and tonics and/or watch Netflix? Well, simple, because it works. Not only does it make you sleep better, which is of course the most important for us awake sleepers, but there are more pleasant side effects. A few research results at a glance:

  1. Walking 2 hours a week lowers your risk of stroke by 30%
  2. Walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce symptoms of depression by 36%
  3. Taking 3,500 steps a day lowers the risk of diabetes by 29%
  4. Walking for 1 hour a day reduces the risk of obesity by 50%
  5. Walking briskly for half an hour five days a week can give bad sleepers about 45 minutes to an hour of extra sleep.

Go to bed with a clear head

In other words, walking is the new smoking cessation. Walking is the new not snacking. Hiking is so 2020 and 2021! So bundle all your good intentions into one resolution: walking every day. I have to be honest: it sounds simple, but it is not necessarily easy. Almost anyone can put one foot in front of the other, but stick with it. I can now do it about three times a week. And yes, I sleep faster, deeper and longer because of it. Of course you get a bit tired of it, and as a result you build up so-called ‘sleep pressure’, so that you spend less time awake when you get into bed.

But it also has beneficial effects on your digestion, making your bowels calmer at night. Moreover, while walking you not only process your food but also the events of the day. That is why you usually go to bed with a clear head – especially if you are walking at night.

Unfortunately, it only started to help for me after a few months and research shows that: you have to last at least four months to benefit from it. After that you can’t stop, because it only works if you do it.

hiking and walking

Tips for hiking

Having become wise through trial and error, I now have some useful advice:

  • Find a walking buddy, preferably one who likes regularity. So, for example, you can take a walk together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I found one; my lovely husband
  • Gift yourself a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers. Put them by the door so you are always reminded of the fact that you wanted this
  • Plan a walk a little further away once a week. My husband and I thought it was stupid at first to take the car for ten minutes, but when we had really walked all the circles in the immediate vicinity 44 times, we allowed ourselves this ‘sin’
  • Hang a poster in the toilet with all the benefits of walking. You will find plenty on the internet. This will motivate you every time
  • Get a dog. Certainly not feasible for everyone, but a proven (and cheerful) walking stimulant!

Even more tips

Don’t forget: to ruminate, a walk alone can be nice. And if you eventually find it a bit boring, download a nice podcast at home and listen to it. Has dragged me through many a hiking slump. Finally: morning people and evening people benefit from different walking moments. Morning people are better off walking after lunch, evening people right in the morning.

PS I personally don’t think having time is such a strong reason to stay at home. If you have time to browse social media, you have time to walk. The same goes for netflixing and hanging out on the internet.

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