STRESS

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STRESSAND WALKING : 

STRESSAND WALKING DR. SHRINIWAS KASHALIKAR

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One of the major causes of STRESS; is confinement to one place and restriction on mobility. Most of us; especially the shopkeepers, clerks, typists, accountants; and most importantly the students and teachers; in nurseries, kindergarten schools, primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities; are involved in sedentary work. They suffer from what is called HYPOKINETIC STRESS.   Locomotion is an inseparable, inevitable and essential characteristic of most species. But in human beings this characteristic has almost been abandoned and is replaced by mechanization, mechanized motion, automation and automated motion!   Most of the time; we, who live sedentary life; are sitting on ground or in chairs; and our legs are idle, neither supporting nor balancing our body. They either hang from the chairs passively or are resting on the footrest under the table. Sometimes we are merely standing if we work as peons.   This sedentary life style; which is cause of HYPOKINETIC STRESS has led to either development or aggravation of several ailments. It is not necessary to go into the details of these ailments. But some of them; such as ischemic heart diseases, diabetes mellitus, varicose veins, hernia, low body resistance; are obvious.

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ADVANTAGES OF WALKING AS A STRESS BUSTER AND IN HOLISTIC HEALTH PROMOTION   Walking is being one with; our “basic biological specie identity”. Just as locomotion is natural as well as essential for the survival in case of most animals and birds, it is natural for all of us also. Though it is not essential for survival; in view of availability of sex, food, protection etc. without locomotion; it is essential for the Total Stress Management and Holistic Health.   Walking involves synchronous activation and inhibition of general sensory and general motor neurons in the nervous system and thereby also a variety of muscle groups. This has two major effects. The prefrontal cortex and limbic system involved in activity of intellect and emotions and characterized by reverberating circuits associated with confusion, dilemmas, diffidence, inertia, indecision, anxiety etc are kept in abeyance. Hence walking alleviates the anxiety. Walking is solacing because of its synchronizing influence on the brain and mind. In addition it has the same beneficial effect of exercise, of producing endorphins and cooling the mind.   Walking is associated with contraction of the lower extremities, which help in returning of the blood from the lower parts to the heart. This prevents development of varicose veins and reduces load on the heart. Since pumping activity of the heart is reduced the possibility of heart failure is reduced.

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As a byproduct of improved venous return, the lungs are perfused better and ventilation is not wasted or in other words, oxygenation is improved.   Walking is associated with, associated movement of arms and neck and hence the possibility of degenerative changes in these regions causing spondylosis and frozen shoulder; are reduced.   Gradual and supported walking helps the patients of Parkinsonism, paraplegia, hemiplegia etc to gain confidence (which is vital for early recovery).   Even the senior citizens are benefited in terms of being able to assert their physical stamina.   Walking is useful as form meditation called GAMANA (walking) VIPASYANA (meditation). Those who like to recite the name of God (NAMSMARAN) or those like to recite prayers can do so while walking.   By practice; is possible to synchronize NAMSMARAN, with footsteps, which can be made synchronous with inhalation and exhalation; and the relaxation and contraction of abdominal muscles.

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Walking nullifies (or at least reduces it; as in children not mere walking is not sufficient; but running, jumping etc are required); HYPOKINETIC STRESS; produced because of immobility. This is especially true in cities where we have to spend in our life in “matchbox prisons”; but also true in all the sedentary population and proved to cause hundreds of variety of damaging i. e. injurious effects on the body.   Walking gives us the opportunity to breathe at least some fresh air; which is so rare in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Calcutta, Delhi etc.   While walking we get breeze which is important from the VIHAR point of view in Ayurveda and giving the body air element from the point of view of naturopathy. In fact, walking provides, TEJA [sun], VAYU [air] and AKASH [space] and thus fulfilling naturopathic requirements excepting mud and water.   From allopathic point of view; air, sun and space (by providing contrast) stimulate; millions of receptors on the skin and also inside the body (as the circulation inside; also increases) and cause overall rejuvenation of the nervous system and thereby other systems including circulatory and respiratory systems.   Like any other exercise is associated with increase in circulation, respiration, sweating and excretion of toxins and thus it helps the kidney by reducing load over it.

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Walking is important for healthy sweating. Sweat is antiseptic and protects the skin from bacteria. In addition sweat actually washes away the obnoxious collections on the skin also. Sweating is important in thermo-regulation.   It is my theory; that excretion sweat; by skin is one of the major support to the excretory and homeostatic function of the kidney. The burden of the kidney is remarkably and significantly reduced because of sweating and walking.   Because of increased blood supply to skin; presumably; the healing and prevention of chronic skin ulcers is achieved.   Due to increase in the blood supply to mucus membranes and stimulation of the production of mucus; cleaning of the lungs and prevention and/or healing of ulcers in the stomach can also be presumably helped.   Besides, skin converts the bilirubin into lumirubin, which is excreted in sweat. This is important additional and alternative way of excretion of bilirubin and would certainly reduce the load on liver.   Walking obviously reduces blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides etc, as like exercise, it also stimulates metabolic (anabolic activity).

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Walking in morning gives exposure to sun and this is good for natural supplement of vitamin D from the UV rays in the sunlight.   Regular walking gives us rest and freedom from many compulsions, which we impose on ourselves. Walking almost certainly ensures sound sleep, which is one of the important aspects of health.   If we are walking alone and recite either some MANTRA or the name of God, then as we are not talking mundane matters we can gain most virtuous fruit of Maunam i.e. observance of silence. This is called MANAS TAPA in Geeta (17.16.). This also helps in avoiding backbiting, abusing etc. and thereby helps in purifying one’s speech. This is called VAACHAA SHUDDHI. Actually this helps in purifying the thoughts also.   Walking alone [without company] gives confidence and fearlessness by helping overcome the fears developed as result of paranoia; found in many of us developed as a result of some physical or psychological trauma.   Not merely the medical problems are reduced and the safety is increased, but medical bills are also reduced. In addition obesity related food, (overeating), clothes (excess size) and perfumes are also reduced. This economic aspect of walking is also interesting.   From social point of view; deep and selfless bonds of love are developed amongst walkers.

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Walking; which, once upon a time has been acclaimed; as the best exercise; by Mahatma Gandhi; is thus; a great STRESS BUSTER and rejuvenator of the physical, mental, social, economic; and if we combine it with NAMASMARAN; then spiritual health! Walking to offices when possible and feasible; would reduce the STRESS of waiting for a vehicle, crowding and pollution.   Like walking; climbing staircase also helps in improvement of physical health and also in reducing the consumption of electricity, and crowding in closed place that causes and facilitates spread of infections.

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