One in 10 adults in the United States wrestles with depression. Many use antidepressant medications as a way to treat this condition. Is there a more natural way to treat this common ailment? Is there something you can do to lift your mood? Here are some surprising ways walking reduces anxiety.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am certain that sometimes medication is necessary. However, I have found there are other ways to lift a downcast frame of mind whether you take medication or not.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has done research which says that a 10-minute walk may be as good as a 45-minute workout. 10 minutes can definitely boost your mood.
Why Walking Works
Your legs are sometimes considered your second heart. Walking helps to get the blood pumping quickly around in your body. The oxygen nourishes all the cells of your body. Your sluggishness is gone, and you feel healthy inside and out!
As you walk your muscles become toned as well as your abs. Even your arm muscles get stronger as you pump them while you walk.
You are shifting the pressure of your weight from your joints to your muscles, in that way it makes your muscles stronger.
Walking is just the beginning of a cascade of biological events. It protects your body against disease such as heart disease and diabetes, it increases lung capacity and improves brain function.
Improved Mobility and Less Pain
Walking improves mobility and lowers pain levels. Those benefits alone should lift your spirits. Short walks when it is convenient, are better than waiting for that elusive time that you have for a longer workout session.
Physical activity can be useful in smaller bursts of time. It can boost your mood so that you never get to that place of depression in the first place.
Just going out for a jaunt, may be responsible for increasing the feel-good, endorphin hormones.
How Does Walking Help with Anxiety?
Research shows that physical activity can protect from the development of depression in children, adults, as well as older adults. There is much evidence from many random control groups demonstrating that exercise is effective in treating depression.
It is not a panacea and may not work equally well for everyone. You still need motivation and a desire to exercise in cooperation with any walking routine.
Is Walking an Antidepressant?
Something as simple as walking at a brisk pace is an all-natural treatment to fight depression.
Researchers found that walking about 100 steps a minute was a good benchmark for a brisk walk.
Research also shows that people with higher levels of physical activity, show fewer symptoms of depression. Physical activity gives you more feel-good hormones to raise your mood. Results of this research was noted around the world. It showed consistent findings across many countries and cultures, including all age categories, from children to seniors.
Surprising Ways Walking Reduces Anxiety
The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity such as brisk walking each week. If you take up jogging, one and a quarter-hour of exercise each week should be sufficient.
Just getting out in the fresh air and sunshine is all it takes to boost your mood.
Walking and Inflammation
Walking can also lower inflammation in the body. The physical benefit of this could have a great influence on your mood. The effect could ripple down to the rest of your body, from better sleep, to healthy eating, as a result of walking more often.
Break Sedentary Time with Activity
You can take just a few minutes each hour to help break up a sedentary life of sitting behind your computer.
Exercise and the Hippocampus
Neuroscientist have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain, the mood regulating region, is smaller in those who are depressed. Exercise encourages the growth of nerve cells, in the hippocampus, and improves nerve cell connections. This helps relieve depression, according to Dr Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Simon Ridley of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, suggests that “it’s never too late to start exercising to help keep our brains healthy.”
According to new research, some surprising ways walking reduces anxiety may be in taking as little as walking10-minutes in nature. Some college students found reduced the stress levels, they felt happier, and more focused, with reduced blood pressure, and heart rate after walking in nature. If you spend more time outdoors, walking or strolling along a beach, or in any other green space, you would be pleasantly surprised at the positive effect it would have on you.
Please Leave a Comment
I would love to hear of your experience. What effect does it have on you to get away from your desk and get out into the fresh air for a brisk walk?
Disclaimer: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioners. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.
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8 thoughts on “Surprising Ways Walking Reduces Anxiety”
I have experience this myself. Walking is a good way of calming down. Going for a short walk even makes us think clearer. So reading your post was not a surprise for me. But I certainly gathered some good additional points. Among them, how it helps with inflammation. Thank you very much for this post.
Hi Abel, and thanks for stopping by with a comment! It has been said that we are more creative thinkers after going outside for a walk. That is a great tip for those who work inside on the computer all day!
Neuroscientists have noticed that walking outside improves nerve cell connections and enlarges the hippocampus of our brain to enhance our memory and our mood. All the best!
Thank you for explaining the benefits of walking to reduce anxiety. I think I really need to start moving my body. Since starting to work from home, I almost never walk out of my apartment. Somehow, I feel more vulnerable to panic and anxiety attacks too. Since it’s hard to walk outside, do you think walking in the apartment corridor (with no natural environment/view) is acceptable?
Hi Alblue, Thanks for stopping by with a comment! For my self I enjoy it when I can get outside and enjoy the breeze and sights and sounds. There are some conditions, agoraphobia, is one, where people feel anxious out in the open.
I know of one woman who in the cold Manitoba winters would walk around, and around her coffee table and in her apartment hallway to try to get in 10,000 steps each day. I think that took determination. The important point is to keep the blood from stagnating in our veins – from pooling in our feet and ankles. Keep plenty of oxygen feeding the cells in our body. Whatever movement we give our body is better than none at all!
Covid has been hard on all of us. We need to make it as easy as possible to stay healthy and happy. All the best!
I can relate to this article. I sit a lot to do my work and I work from. I know the benefit of exercise, so I work out in the morning on most days. Some years ago, I was challenged with anxiety attacks and depression that would not ease up. I got medication but I don’t like the pill popping, so I kept wishing for another way. Then I took up walking, and I could feel the difference in my mood, and in my sleeping. I later realised that I could walk as a regular activity, free of cost, and then is when my healing began. It has been more than twenty years. I love to walk alone. I love to hear my feet ‘left, right, left right’. I walk a little faster than a stroll. My walk is my medication and my meditation. I will never give it up.
Hi JJ. Thanks for stopping by with a comment! I guess getting the blood flowing through our veins swooshes the crankiness out of our brains and gives us clear thinking and pleasant thoughts! 😉 Lol
It puts us in a positive frame of mind. Getting out in the fresh air and sunshine does wonders for our mood as well as the rest of our body. I know of more than one doctor that gave that as a prescription – to get out and walk.
Medicine does have a place, I am sure, but being active certainly helps as well.
I too, spend a lot of time behind a computer. I like to get outside most days and walk. I find an activity tracker motivates me to get in more steps each day.
I love your article. I have been walking for years. I have been able to keep my stress level low. I have better circulation and definitely sleep better. Now, you did mention something that I was not aware of and that how walking reduces inflammation. I will add that info when friends or family tell me they want the energy I have because they suffer from aches, pains, and inflammation.
Hi Sharon, and thanks for stopping by with a comment! I have a friend who just recently turned 90 years old. For her age she is in good physical health.
She used to walk everywhere. She would walk to get groceries, etc. I sincerely think that is what helped her have such good health. She even looks young with hardly a wrinkle!
I do think walking keeps us healthy.