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The #1 recovery & relaxation trick of the world´s top performers

The #1 recovery & relaxation trick of the world´s top performers

alking is in our genes. Every Sunday and over the holidays - in normal years - thousands can be observed going for a walk as a family. Since it is advised to walk alone this year anyway, you will be able to enjoy the full benefits of the wellbeing formular which we will present you in this blog. Walking has more than earned its enormous popularity, as you will learn in this short article in honor of walking. Famous personalities have always sworn by the physical and mental wonders that spring from a leisurely walk. It's not for chance that Scrooge McDuck is always pictured walking circles in his "Worry Room" when there's a particularly tough nut to crack. Or the late Steve Jobs, who swore by his "walking meetings".

Scroog McDuck (left) & late Steve Jobs (right) had more than their full money bin in common

What are the effects of a relaxed walk in nature on your body?

As always, it's worth taking a look at the Stone Age. There is a reason that this time is called "the hunter gatherer" time. Our biology is still perfectly adapted only to the circumstances of this time. Therefore it reacts very positively to a way of life, which comes close to this time. So when it comes to the topic of movement, one can infer from modern hunter-gatherers on the predominant way of locomotion during this time. Who has ever seen a hunter jogging through the forest on his stalk? Or watched the gatherers in a self-service strawberry field rushing from bush to bush with their heads red and sweating? Exceptions confirm the rule. So we humans are walkers. And it´s most beneficial to us when done in nature.

The three main effects of leisurely walking on your body are:

  1. Accelerated blood flow and thus higher oxygen and nutrient saturation in every cell of your body, but especially the brain
  2. 1500% accelerated lymphatic flow, optimizing water balance and detoxification
  3. Muscles become more receptive to insulin, which leads to less insulin circulating the body

Lymph flow in particular depends on the light muscle contractions associated with leisurely walking. Since the lymphatic system is not, unlike the blood system, kept circulating by a circulating pump, the heart, we have to keep it going through movement and muscle contractions.

The improved circulation in combination with the increased lymph flow and the more insulin-sensitive muscles leads to hormonal and anti-inflammatory effects, which have a very positive impact on your recovery and relaxation.

This hormonal relaxation and "destress" effect can be measured most clearly with blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Which fell 15% during a mere 15-minute forest bathing "Shinrin-yoku" according to this study. In other words, a 15-minute walk in the forest. Remarkable finding of this study: A 15-minute walk in the city had almost no positive effect on cortisol levels.

The better insulin sensitivity and thus lower concentrations of the inflammation promoters insulin and glucose (anti-inflammatory effect) have a noticeable effect on your recovery and relaxation even 24h after the walk.  

A leisurely walk in nature, preferably forest, is therefore a recovery and relaxation booster in itself. Combining it with the activity presented in the next section makes it an absolute miracle weapon for your recovery, however.  

Effects of mindful breathing on your mind

Conscious breathing takes a central role in most world religions and countless relaxation methods. Why? The Heartmath Institute in California has been researching an answer to this question for more than 30 years. According to them, the greatest concentration of synaptic connections outside of the brain is located at the heart, which is always communicating with the brain. It serves as a second brain for our body. Wonder where the third highest concentration of synaptic connections is located? The gut. Now the saying "decide from the gut" makes sense. I digress. The heart can be controlled by harmonious calm breathing and thus influences the mental state of relaxation through this heart-brain connection.

Over 300 independently reviewed studies explored the effects of a simple 5s inhale 5s exhale technique in combination with concentration on feelings of gratitude and observed the following changes in nearly 12,000 participants:

Studies conducted with over 11,500 people have shown improvements in mental & emotional wellbeing in just 6-9 weeks using gratitude based breathing technique

Effects of a conscious walk:

So walking in nature and conscious breathing have a very relaxing and restorative effect even when done in separation. However, it's fair to assume that the combined effect of the two will be greater than the sum of its parts might suggest. For example, during a walk, both hemispheres of the brain are synchronized simply by alternately activating the legs and arms, which stimulates the production of alpha brain waves. These correlate with mind states of relaxed concentration, thus facilitating your focus on breathing and feeling gratitude for the person, the pet, the dish, the drink... [fill in the blank for yourself personally]. So a conscious walk skillfully uses synergies between walking and breathing exercise, putting you in a kind of super-relaxed state.

In line with this, our prescription for you:

Shell out 15 to 30 minutes. Go for a walk in the woods and pay attention to a conscious 5s inhalation 5s exhalation breathing pattern. Think and feel the things you are grateful for. I know what you are thinking. This is too "touchyfeely" for me. My only question for you is: Why do all the top performers in business and sports around the world swear by this technique?

Think of me this holiday season and take the time. 15 minutes a day with this simple formula can make Christmas 2020 the most relaxing you've ever experienced. Who would have thought.

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