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“Gaming Disorder” is Now a Mental Health Condition

The World Health Organization Announces “Gaming Disorder” as the Newest Mental Health Epidemic

How often do you or your friends play video games? Are your children spending more time in front of a screen than you would like? Have you tried cutting down on gaming, but can’t seem to stop? If turning on a game console is more important than taking care of your body, your health, and your relationships with others, gaming disorder might be the culprit.

This week, the relationship between video games and mental health has been pushed into the forefront of a national discussion. Researchers are discovering that disconnecting from devices is crucial to maintaining your health. In the 11th edition of their International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced gaming disorder as a growing mental health concern.

The connection between electronic devices and your mental, emotional, and physical health is, without a doubt, a hot topic. In fact, turning off electronic screens and getting outdoors has always been a key part of the Walking With America vision! Check out the sections below for a further discussion on gaming disorder, why disconnecting from devices can be an essential part of good mental health, and how WWA can help.

gaming addiction and disorder

What is Gaming Disorder?

Gaming disorder is listed as an addictive behavior similar to gambling or substance abuse disorders. According to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), gaming disorder is defined by “a pattern of persistent or recurring behavior” for online or offline gaming. People affected by gaming disorder share the following characteristics:

  • Lack of control, even when gaming patterns produce negative outcomes
  • Gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities
  • Gaming leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas

Signs of Gaming Disorder

Although gaming disorder has only recently been recognized, thousands of people have been battling addiction to electronics for years. reSTART is one of the first inpatient treatment programs designed to treat Internet and gaming addiction in the US. According to reSTART, warning signs and symptoms of gaming disorder include:

  • Increasing amounts of time spent on computer and internet activities
  • Failed attempts to control behavior
  • Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and internet activities
  • Craving more time on the computer and internet
  • Neglecting friends and family
  • Feeling restless when not engaged in the activity
  • Being dishonest with others
  • Computer use interfering with job/school performance
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of behavior
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities

How Walking With America Can Help

One of the core components of Walking With America has always been the deep desire to help people get up, get moving, and engage with their surroundings. On average, we spend as much as 93 percent of our lives either indoors or inside a car. For those suffering from gaming disorder, that time is dominated with staring at either a television, computer, or console screen.

Recent studies have suggested that excessive time spent playing video games is connected to anxiety and depression. For some, gaming disorder can be a secondary effect of these mood disorders. In extreme cases, treating anxiety and depression comes in the form of therapy and medication — but it is also possible to use physical exercise (like walking) to boost your mental and emotional health.

Walking releases endorphins, builds strength, and promotes better circulation. It clears the mind and gives you an opportunity to organize your thoughts. More importantly, the goal of Walking With America is to create a national movement FOR movement — WWA promotes genuine, healthy, and unique ways to interact with the people and the environment around you.

By creating a daily routine of walking — by yourself, with your dog, or joined by a friend or family member — you can start to reshape your thinking, boost your physical strength, and nourish your mental and emotional health!

After You Walk–Share Your Story!

Has your interaction with video games and time spend staring at a screen gotten in the way of your daily life? How has walking helped improve your own emotional or mental health? Find us on Instagram or Facebook and let the Walking With America community know! We would love to hear your personal stories and share in all of your successes!

As always, don’t forget to #walkwithme every Saturday morning as we all share a moment of our lives together and come to a happier, healthier understanding of our world.

5 Fantastic Ways Walking Boosts Your Emotional & Mental Health

5 Fantastic Ways Walking Boosts Your Emotional & Mental Health

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.

― Søren Kierkegaard

Our health has many dynamic branches, with each intricately connected and needing regular attention, maintenance, and care. Whether it’s your physical, mental, or emotional health, they all need a check-up from time to time!

This is perhaps why walking is such a wonderful and widely recommended activity, as walking brings the unique benefit of addressing our mental and emotional health alongside the physical. (With so many activities crammed into our hectic lives, how can you NOT love an opportunity to naturally multi-task?!)

By creating a daily routine of walking, you can simultaneously strengthen your body, soul, and mind—and how awesome is that?! You may not realize it, but here are five fantastic ways that walking can improve your emotional and mental health:

1. It Decreases Stress

On those days where you feel especially stressed out or anxious, going for a walk is a great way to clear your thoughts and take some deep breaths. It’s even better if you can take a walk while surrounded by nature—being outdoors amidst trees and flowers will create a much more relaxing environment than, say, walking on a busy road with cars rushing by.

Once you remove distractions and noise—like traffic, an upcoming project at work, or that lingering conversation that you’re convinced could have been better— you’ll find that stressors begin to melt away. Combine that lack of distraction with the steady movement of walking, and you have the perfect opportunity to create your own “zen-like” escape.

2. It Improves Creativity

Walking is becoming a popular way for companies and businesses to spark creative discussion—from mid-afternoon walking breaks to quick chat sessions from one end of the hallway to the other, there’s something uniquely beneficial about how walking can dislodge new ideas.

In fact, Stanford researchers found that the average person’s creative output increased by 60 percent while walking! Whether you want to generate ideas for your next presentation or get rid of that pesky writer’s block, you can spend a few minutes walking indoors or outdoors—you’ll get the same creative benefits either way.

3. IT INCREASES ENERGY

It sounds like a contradiction, but introducing exercise into your daily routine will actually improve your energy levels over the long-term—and this includes walking! In fact, consistent, low intensity exercise has been found to reduce overall fatigue levels by as much as 65 percent, according to a study at the University of Georgia.

If you find yourself hitting that wall of fatigue in the late afternoon and struggling to recover, you may want to consider adding a morning or lunch-time walk into your schedule to stave off sleepiness and give your energy the kick-start it needs!

4. IT IMPROVES SLEEP

Daily walking is a great way to regulate your sleep hormones, like melatonin. While of course it won’t do you much good to go for a fast-paced walk right before you hit the hay, you may want to try a relaxed evening stroll before going to bed to prepare your body and mind for sleep.

5. IT BOOSTS SELF-ESTEEM

There are TONS of ways that walking can improve your self-esteem, depending on your unique personality, emotions, and thought process. Walking can leave you feeling better about yourself through a number of benefits, including: improved physical fitness, increased endorphins, higher energy levels, decreased anxiety, elevated mood, and more.

Spiritually, walking becomes a physical symbol for movement, an invitation to push forward and leave behind negative thoughts and emotions that are weighing you down, making you feel stuck, and generating feelings of isolation or loneliness.

For many, walking pushes away those clouds and provides a space for hope to come in, clearing away negative energy, improving mood, and boosting self-esteem in the process.

After You Walk–Share Your Story!

How has walking helped improve your own emotional or mental health? Have you experienced a unique benefit that you don’t see listed here? Don’t be shy—find me on Instagram or Facebook and let the Walking With America community know! I would love to hear your personal stories and share in all of your successes!

As always, don’t forget to #walkwithme every Saturday morning as we all share a moment of our lives together and come to a happier, healthier understanding of our world.

5 Surprising Ways that Walking Each Day Can Relieve Back Pain

5 Surprising Ways that Walking Each Day Can Relieve Back Pain

For those that suffer from back pain, everyday tasks like laying down, sitting, standing, and even unloading the dishwasher can be excruciating. If you are constantly in and out of the chiropractor’s office or have taken a few days off from work due to an aching back, know that you’re not alone!

In fact, back pain is often cited as the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 51 percent of those surveyed reported back pain so severe that even basic actions are limited as a result.

Luckily, for those that suffer from back pain, walking each day can do wonders in helping you self-manage your pain and start living a happier, healthier life! Here are some great ways that making a regular walking routine can help ease back pain:

1. It’s low-impact (good news for your back!)

When back pain is involved, high-intensity exercises like running or strength training with weight lifting are often not viable options. Because walking is much less intense, there is low risk of injuring your back even further, giving you nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain.

2. It strengthens bones and muscles

From the bones in your feet to the interlaced muscles across your back, walking is a great way to add a little bit of strength to your feet, legs, hips, torso, and of course, your back.

Gaining strength in your bones and muscles will help to stabilize your spine and promote better posture—and when it comes to managing back pain, posture is crucial.

3. It releases endorphins

Any form of exercise comes with the added benefit of endorphin release, hormones that relieve pain and take away stress.

4. It improves flexibility

One of the warning signs for lower and upper back pain is a stiff spine—and for those who are sitting at a desk all day in the same position, your spine can easily lose its natural flexibility.

When paired with regular stretching, walking can increase your range of movement, supporting flexibility, preventing awkward movements that turn into pain, and protecting your spine against future injury.

5. It promotes good circulation

Not only is healthy circulation great for your heart, but it’s also helpful for your back! Improving blood flow to your spine, torso, legs, and all associated muscles means that these trouble spots get the nutrients that they need to repair, grow, and stay healthy.

Before You Walk—Don’t Forget Your Form!

If you suffer from lower back pain, keeping your posture and form in mind will not only magnify the benefits of walking, but it will also prevent you from potentially injuring yourself. Livestrong suggests that the proper “technique” means that you should:

  • Keep a rapid pace—but not so fast that you can’t breathe calmly or hold a conversation (bring a friend to walk with you!)
  • Start with a slow, 5-minute walk and build your way up to at least 30 minutes
  • Use your abdominal muscles to support your back and prevent injury
  • Keep your stomach tucked in slightly, towards your spine, and focus on staying upright to avoid leaning forward
  • Take a few minutes for some gentle stretching before and after
  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes
  • Keep your hands relaxed and let your arms swing naturally

To ensure that your back is protected, you should also start by walking on a flat surface—like a local park or sidewalk—and gradually build your way up to more uneven ground, like a nature walk or a hike.

Of course, no matter what, don’t forget to listen to your body. Some lower back pain will be too intense even for walking, so start incorporating walking into your daily routine at a slow pace and pay attention to what your body is telling you.

After You Walk–Share Your Story!

How has walking helped your own struggles with back pain? Have you experienced a unique benefit of walking that you don’t see listed here? Don’t be shy—find me on Instagram or Facebook and let the Walking With America community know! I would love to hear your personal stories and share in all of your successes!

As always, don’t forget to #walkwithme every Saturday morning as we all share a moment of our lives together and come to a happier, healthier understanding of our world.