The Way You Walk Can Contribute To Depression, Study Shows, So It's Time To Put A Pep Back Into Your Step

Depression is common, and many factors are known to contribute to this serious mental disorder: genetics, exercise, diet, and so on. Although the equation of things that can add up to depression isn't a simple one, many people seem quite interested in doing what they can to reduce their risk (especially those who've suffered from it before). So, take notice: a new study suggests that even the way you walk could contribute to depression. Perhaps it's time for a posture revamp!

Psychologists from the University of Hildesheim in Germany thought to investigate the relationship between walking style and mood by asking 39 experimental participants to deliberately walk in either a depressed or happy style (as measured by a biofeedback device). They then assessed the participants' mood with a word recall test: the participants who walked happily were more likely to remember positive words, while the participants who walked depressively remembered more negative words.

So the mechanism at work here isn't mood change per se, it has to do with your memory and cognition. Walking depressively doesn't make you feel sad, but it encourages you to recall and ruminate on bad things that have happened to you, which could easily lower your mood in the future. Previous research showed that making minor positive changes to people's seated posture reduced negative memory bias, so walking and posture changes could legitimately be a piece in solving the depression puzzle.

In related news, acting happy can make you feel happy (which is why, curiously, botox can be used as a treatment for depression). And when you're feeling physically clean, you are less morally judgmental than when you're physically dirty, so it may make sense to pause and consider your surroundings. Basically our minds take cues from our bodies just as much as our minds order our bodies around, and their are lots of opportunities to exploit this feedback system to our benefit.

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