Get out your walking shoes because after this article, you’re going to want to take a walk.
Regular walking, yes a leisurely 30 minute stroll in the park or a brisk walk to the store has incredible physical and mental health benefits. In this article, I’m sharing the benefits of walking and how a midday walk can help you get over your afternoon slump.
The Dreaded Afternoon Slump…
I am no stranger to the dreaded afternoon slump. The clock strikes 2 and bam, a nap doesn’t just sound nice—it’s completely necessary. This is how I felt when going through adrenal fatigue. In fact, an afternoon slump is one of the most telling signs of adrenal fatigue.
If you wake up in the morning feeling unrested, sluggish until about 11 and then when 2 or 3 comes around, completely exhausted—you may have symptoms of adrenal fatigue. (Find out here). If you are one of those people (I once was), who feels guilty about feeling tired and reaches for a soda, coffee, or energy drink instead of a pillow, listen up!
Stimulants like coffee don’t actually give you energy. Caffeine from your oat milk latte or Monster energy drink just blocks the receptors that tell your brain you’re tired. And chances are, after a while of masking the symptoms with caffeine, it probably won’t even work anymore! * enter another crash and burn— and awful sleep *
THE PROBLEM WITH STIMULANTS
Stimulants are doing you no favors in the grand scheme of things. Whether you’re tired from a poor night’s sleep or you are dealing with adrenal fatigue, a mid-day energy drink is not the answer. Here’s why:
1 – Spikes Blood Sugar & Stresses Out Body: oftentimes, the mid-day drink (or snack) we crave has loads of sugar in it. Because your body is craving energy, sugary snacks often “appease” that craving by spiking insulin and giving a quick burst of energy. Also known as a sugar high. But the worst part about the sugar high isn’t even the crash and burn—it’s the inflammation. Processed sugary foods (But also plain black coffee) create a stress response in your body. Your body will then flood itself with stress hormones like cortisol. When this happens consistently, even at low levels, your nervous system and endocrine system get dysregulated. This dysregulation of your hormonal system and HPA axis can then turn into adrenal fatigue. If you are already in the throes of adrenal fatigue, by opting for a coffee or pastry, you’re not doing any favors for your already stressed out adrenals.
2 – Ruins Sleep: it’s not news that drinking caffeine after 10am can ruin sleep. When you consume caffeine past that time, it can circulate into your body into bedtime causing insomnia and frequent wake ups. You may not even know that this is the reason for your poor sleep until you give it up for 7 days! (How long it takes for caffeine to fully leave the liver)
Poor sleep is one of the top reasons for an afternoon slump, so in order to have consistent energy levels throughout the day, ditch the stimulant!
4 – Postpones Healing: like we talked about, caffeine doesn’t actually give you energy, but instead adds more stress, ruins sleep, and wrecks hormones—ultimately, postponing healing and deeping dis-ease.
If you feel like you’re at your wits end for ways to get over the afternoon slump, I’m here to tell you that walking could be your saving grace. If you’re not going to take a nap (which I recommend to all of my adrenal fatigue warriors) then you might as well take a walk.
Benefits of Walking: Energy & More
1 – Movement Creates More Energy
We all know that movement increases energy and vitality in the body. This is all thanks for its ability to increase blood flow to the brain and body. But what else can walking do to help get to the root of fatigue and low energy?
2 – Suppresses Fear Response
Have you ever noticed that when you feel more fearful or less excited or motivated about life, that you’re more tired? I know this is true for me. When I’m living purposefully, or I have anxiety about the future, my body shuts down. I am more fatigued and less courageous. This is a major symptom and cause of adrenal fatigue. If you are unable to complete your tasks because of anxious feelings, fearfulness, and sadness—taking a walk can help.
A 2018 study from Nature shows that forward movement like walking suppresses the brain’s far response and encourages us to be more courageous and confrontational, ready to face daily tasks with energy and more ease. This forward movement also releases dopamine which helps us to feel more motivated and happy and less anxious.
This is due to “lateralized eye movements” that our eyes do as we move forward. Lateral eye movements shut down our amygdala, or fear center, which helps us change our feelings and perceptions around difficult memories or current events that are causing stress, overwhelm, and fatigue.
When we go on walks, we are able to process emotions better, things that are stressing us out, and ultimately heal chronic low energy and fatigue at the root.
3 – Boosts Immunity & Increases Lymphatic Drainage
A daily walk can help shake up and spread out natural killer immune cells and make them more vigilant. Oftentimes, people suffering from chronic low energy and adrenal fatigue can also have a low immune system, which can make you more tired and less resilient. One of my top recommendations is to take an immune supplement, but another one is walking!
The reason for this is because exercise like walking increases lymphatic return. The lymphatic system is responsible for immunity and maintaining fluid balance in the body (in addition to adrenal hormones). To move your lymph, you must do it manually through muscular contraction.
Your lymphatic system carries your body’s natural defenses like natural killer cells, B cells, and T cells. These cells destroy bad bacteria and help flush viruses, cancer cells, and other toxins that can make you feel ill and sluggish.
To boost immunity even more, consider brisk walking outside, where there are trees and natural essential oils for immunity!
4 – Protects Brain and Aging
Walking improves blood flow and oxygen flow to the brain, increases heart rate helping with heart health and high blood pressure. All of this helps reduce our changes of physical and cognitive decline by 90% compared to those who don’t adopt a consistent movement regimen.
If you are experiencing a daily afternoon slump, chances are you also experience brain fog and lack mental clarity. This was one of the most frustrating symptoms for me. If you want to gain your wit back and be able to make it through a full day of work without dread, then a walk might be the trick. Plus, walks are said to make you more creative!
5 – Simple Task, Profound Transformation
Walking puts the power back into your hands. It doesn’t have to be complicated. No set time, location, or strict guidelines. Take a walk outside, on the treadmill, around your apartment complex. Do it for 10 minutes, and trust me, the more you do it, the more you’ll crave it. It doesn’t have to be 10000 steps! You can even break it up and walk for 10 minutes in the morning, 20 in the afternoon, and 10 after dinner. You’ll have more energy throughout the day and get better sleep at night.
Doing anything at all while suffering from adrenal fatigue seems like a massive task. I know a walk can feel like that. I want to encourage you to commit to a short walk everyday for a week and see how it changes your afternoon energy levels.
No matter your fitness level, a daily walk is a practical way to help boost energy and overall health, and prevent chronic diseases. Let me know if you’re going to take on the 7 day daily walk challenge in the comments below, or DM me on instagram @elevayshealth.