Most of us know that regular exercise is good for us. The American Heart Association stresses the importance of regular exercise to decrease the risk of heart and lung disease, improve sleep, decrease stress and maintain a healthy weight. However, did you know that a steady routine of cardio exercise like walking has been proven to reduce back and neck pain?
When we do cardio exercise, the large muscles of our legs, arms and back get an increase in blood circulation. Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and carries away waste materials and toxins back to the liver.
In chronic pain, the muscles in the body carry more toxins and need this exchange for healing. The increased blood flow allows a rise in body temperature and the muscles become more flexible.
Additionally, increased mobility of the muscles and joints is healthy in recovering from an injury.
Prolonged exercise releases healthy endorphins (our body’s natural painkillers) that heighten our mood and improve our outlook.
- The goal is to do some type of cardio exercise such as walking, biking or swimming 3-5 times per week with a goal of 150 minutes total per week
- Warm-up and cool down with a light intensity
- Increase your duration/intensity slowly each session by 20% to avoid the “boom-bust” cycle
Our Favorite Walks in Minneapolis
There are many great sites around the Twin Cities that are perfect to soak up the fall colors while getting out of your usual stomping grounds!
- Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) in Minneapolis. The 3.1 mile walk is mostly flat and offers free (and paid) parking options. Make a day of it with great restaurant options nearby as well!
- Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. Tackle your need for a good walk while also enjoying a breathtaking waterfall! With over 10 miles of trails, visit the Minneapolis Parks website to plan your route.
- Minneapolis Sculpture Garden/Loring area. Great way to get in a short walk while enjoying the outdoor art, including the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture!
Been there, done that? Check out these other ideas in and around Minneapolis. Take this opportunity to explore the world around you while easing back and neck pain!
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Originally posted January 2017, updated October 2022.