For those of you who are walkaholics, you already know that going on a walk boosts your mood. You don't need science to tell you that you always feel better after walking it out. Just the motion of moving your legs and feeling the breeze in your hair can make whatever you're fretting about seem less intense. It feels good to get up and get out — I know this because I used to live with a walkaholic. My roommate had beat science to it and figured out that when she was feeling stressed or blue, it was time to take herself out on a walk. She'd leave in a black cloud, and come back looking enlightened every time.
Personally, when I'm upset, I don't feel much like walking. I don't feel much like doing anything, to be honest. I like to just sit under my black cloud and whine until I feel better. The only problem is, I rarely feel better. It wasn't until I saw first-hand how effective a good walk can be on the mood, that I decided to try it myself, as a tool. And holy moly, it really works. Even when I was expecting it to do nothing for my overall disposition, it did. Even when I resisted it or thought less of the capabilities a good walk has, it always worked.
Which is exactly the point the psychologists who carried out a study on walking are trying to make. Jeff Miller, a visiting professor of psychology at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, and Zlatan Krizan, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, got together to do an experiment and study on the effects walking has on mood. They solicited the help of over 232 college students to carry out three different experiments. In each experiment, the students started with a mood assessment, which is basically a quiz they take to help researchers understand how they feel in their resting state. Then the students partook in exercises that involved different variations of watching a tour of a building via video, and touring a building by foot. After each trial, the students filled out another mood assessment to show researchers how their moods changed after the walking portion. What they found was that a substantial amount of students experienced increased happiness, energy and enthusiasm after the walk — proving its significance.
If you need any more convincing, these are five other ways that walking affects us positively:
You Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease
OK, maybe it's not something you're worrying about yet, but it's never too soon to partake in preventative measures. Studies show that in people aged 18 to 80 who walked regularly for over a six-year period reduced the risk of heart disease by 9.3 percent.
Just a simple 10 minute walk has the power to reduce stress hormones and increase endorphins. That's science, my friends — if you're stressing out over an issue, take a walk and come back to it. You might be surprised by how different you feel re-approaching it.
You Improve Your Sleep
If you spend 30 minutes of brisk walking a day for at least five days, you'll start to notice that you're sleeping better. That's because the activity is wearing you out more than you think. Just because it's pleasant doesn't mean it's not effective.
It Will Keep You ~Regular~
It's important to do things that help increase our metabolism. Fitness aside, metabolism controls our ~regularity~, if you know what I mean. A simple 20 minute daily walk can help to raise metabolism and regulate digestion. You gotta get going to get going.
It Will Boost Your Immune Function
Walking basically creates and internal environment that's optimal for fighting bacterial and disease. It raises your temperature which helps to fight off bacteria. It increases your endorphins which cut down on stress hormone releases. It gets your blood flowing and your organs functioning.
So what are you waiting for? Put your emails on pause. Go for a quick walk. Your body and your brain will thank you for it later.