Why walking helps me cope with my chronic pain

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Walking does wonders for our overall health and wellbeing and is a simple way to get some daily exercise. I absolutely love walking; it means I’m not sitting (which is when I’m in pain), it clears my head, and it energises me, even on my most tired days. It is one of my favourite pain management techniques and more than ever I am convinced walking helps me cope, it reduces my pain, and it helps my anxiety and stress. Oh, and it helps me burn some extra calories and is an easy way to achieve my 30 minutes of daily exercise.

Note: Everyone experiences chronic pain in different ways and what works for me not might work for you – and vice versa. My blogs are often based on my own experiences. The advice and information given is not a substitute for medical advice. Obviously, some people struggle to walk because of their pain, disability or health conditions, or even can’t walk at all. I understand walking isn’t feasible or optional for everyone. If it is something you are able to do and want to do more of, I recommend you consult with a medical professional before you start.

For me, any type of movement is naturally going to help me manage and reduce my chronic pain. A huge part of my pain management, and encouraged by my physio, is to move as much as possible to help loosen my muscles. This stops them getting tight, forming knots, and causing additional pain elsewhere in my body.

The health benefits of walking

Even if walking doesn’t specifically help with chronic pain, it has numerous health benefits, such as:

  • Burning more calories and helping with weight control.
  • Improving our overall mental wellbeing, including our mood, which in turn can reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Reducing the risk of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and dementia.
  • Strengthening muscles and bones.
  • Increasing productivity and creativity.

Read more about the benefits of walking 30 minutes a day.

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Reduce stress and anxiety

Walking is brilliant for mental health in general, and can be an effective way of distracting your thoughts, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.

When I start to feel anxious or stressed with things, sometimes the last thing I want to do is go for a walk. Stress and anxiety can consume your energy and make you feel drained, lethargic and zap your motivation. But I know that if I overcome this and ‘just do it’ then I automatically feel so much better.

Walking helps me cope with the day-to-day challenges of life with chronic pain as well as everyday stresses and worries. Never have I come back from a walk and regretted it. I’ve always felt the benefits of the fresh air and movement, and this improves my overall mental wellbeing.

Keeping motivated

Having a daily steps goal is one way to keep yourself motivated. I alternative between aiming for 10,000 and 8,000 steps a day depending on how bad my pain and fatigue are at the time.

I often listen to a podcast when I’m out walking, too. It gives me something to focus on and I always learn something new as well, which is another way of motivating myself to walk more.

Some of my favourite podcasts

My recent 100,000 steps-in-a-week challenge

This last week I upped my steps game to the next level and aimed to achieve 100,000 steps in a week. Why? Because walking helps me cope, I wanted to challenge myself, and I also raised money for Guide Dogs. It was all part of the Walk Your Socks off challenge. I did it, and my total steps for the week was 127, 957.

I broke this down in to a daily target of 15,000 steps a day, but on most days I did much more. One day I even hit 25,000 steps. I went exploring down public footpaths I’d never been down before and really enjoyed my time out in the countryside.

I absolutely loved the challenge. I felt proud of what I’d achieved, raised over Β£240 for a worthy cause, managed my pain the best I have for a very long time, and my overall health will have benefited too. I even bet I lost a few pounds (I’ve not checked yet).

Your thoughts

Do you enjoy walking?

Is waking a part of your pain management?

If so, how can you challenge yourself to walk more?

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6 thoughts on “Why walking helps me cope with my chronic pain

  1. Jo says:

    I also try to walk 10,000 steps daily. When we go away we easily do double that. As you said great for stress relief and loosening joints and muscles. I’ve had coccydynia for about a year and it really helps relief that pain.

    • Alice says:

      I didn’t realise you had coccydynia too. I was originally diagnosed with that but had my coccyx removed 4 years ago, so no idea what I’ve got now. Walking definitely helps me no matter what though. Well done on your daily steps, that’s brilliant! ?

  2. Caz / InvisiblyMe says:

    A little exercise can be a wonderful thing when you figure out how and when works for you. I find walking too much can be incredibly painful because of my hips now, but I still try to do short walks most days if I can, even if it’s literally 5-10 minutes to the shop up the street, it all counts. Well done on your recent challenge, and raising money for Guide Dogs is fantastic! πŸ™‚
    Caz xx

    • Alice says:

      Thanks Caz ? I’ve felt a bit lost this week not doing my challenge, I may do it again. And yes, 5 to 10 minutes is all beneficial. Even that each day equates to 30-60 minutes a week.

  3. Despite Pain says:

    It can become so easy to just sit or lie down due to pain, but very often, keeping moving is good for the pain. Sometimes we need to find the right balance, and often that can vary from day to day.

    • Alice says:

      You’re right! Years ago, rest was prescribed, but more and more we are encouraged to move and walk. Everyone is different but some movement is bound to help.

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