We all know that walking is good for us. We know it makes us physically healthier, but did you know that there are major emotional and psychological benefits that come from walking too? It’s been scientifically proven that walking also boosts energy and fights depression! Studies have shown that walking triggers your body to release a natural painkiller called endorphins, and the more steps you take during the day, the better your mood tends to be. The advantages don’t just stop there either….
- Brain Food: Research carried out for the Alzheimer’s Association found that walking develops an area of the brain called the “hippocampus” which is important for memory. The study looked at 120 adults who had previously been sedentary and found that the hippocampus had grown by 2% as a result of them taking up walking.
- Boost Energy: According to a study published in 2008, middle-aged and older adults who walk at their own pace for pleasure reported increased energy levels compared to those who didn’t walk at all.
- Fight Insomnia: A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle found that women (aged between 50 and 75) who walked for an hour each morning were more likely to beat insomnia than women who didn’t walk at all.
- Stimulate Mental Alertness: A study of 6,000 women, carried out at the University of California, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day only had a 17% decline in memory, while those who walked less than half a mile per day suffered over 25% memory loss.
- Tackle Depression: Walking can relieve symptoms of depression, leading to improvements in individual quality of life according to a research review from Portland State University in Oregon. They found many studies which demonstrated a positive association between physical activity and the alleviation of symptoms of depression and anxiety. They also suggest that walking is as effective as standard antidepressant therapy in reducing depression.
- Beat Anxiety and Stress: Research which looked at the physical activities of 137 college students in Texas found that those who participated in leisure activities such as walking reduced symptoms of anxiety associated with minor stress. They suggested that walking was just as beneficial if not more so than other harder aerobic exercise.
- Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk. Men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walk more than a quarter of a mile per day have half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who don’t walk, according to research from the University of Virginia.
It’s well documented that some of the greatest psychological benefits of walking are related to the general outdoor environment, especially in more rural settings. The social benefits of engaging with other people and with nature are also well recognised whether you’re trying to beat some of the issues listed above or just wanting to maintain great physical health and mental wellbeing.
Hopefully, we’ve managed to convince you to put on your favourite Strive footwear and get walking, if not, it’s never too late to start….