Our clients often ask us about exercise while they are in pain and the answer is always the same. For those with chronic pain walking is simply the best form of exercise. Not just because it is less traumatic to your joints and muscles causing less breakdown, it has also been shown to help the brain heal and importantly calm the nervous system.
Running while good at burning calories, places you brain and body in fight / flight mode (sympathetic overdrive) which is not conducive to healing. Walking like meditation and correct breathing places your body in a healing mode by putting your body in parasympathetic mode (rest/heal/digest).
Our bodies should be running on parasympathetic mode most of the time but with life's pressures, stress, poor diet, dysfunctional breathing, pain, poor sleep many of us walk around in sympatheic mode all the time. So an easy way to get back to parasympathetic mode and reduce pain is to go walking. Ideally at least 3 times a week gradually increasing the time. This is a great way to loose body weight and calm the mind.
Walking also stimulates brain and body connection which stimulates neuronal synapses and plasticity and importantly neurogenesis (growth and development of brain tissue). Ultimately meaning your brain says well tuned. A healthy brain means less pain and healthy well run body for everything is run by the brain !
Many studies have shown the benefits walking which include the following; learning and memory, protection from neurodegeneration and alleviation of depression, particularly in elderly populations.
Dr M Shah