- Psychologists from Iowa University have shown how walking can crate positive moods through three tests.
- They tested the mood of people who took a gentle stroll, people who remained seated, people who walked under pressure and people who walked on the treadmill.
- The results showed that even a 12 minute walk generated positivity
The rush of hormones, the flush of good health and the expansion of the lungs are all good signs that most people look out for while on a walk. However, not many people get to go for a relaxed walk every day; this could be due to the pressures of the day or the tightly packed schedules that prevent taking time out for a walk.
‘Walking daily for 12 minutes will keep you happy every day.’
AdvertisementThere's some good news from the researchers at Iowa State University, psychologists Jeffrey Miller and Zlatan Krizan have shown that a walk as short as 12 minutes can be satisfying.
Exercise and Mood Enhancement
Exercise has always been associated with an enhancement of the mood. Previous studies have shown how exercising with the sole purpose of improving the mood can provide immense benefits.
Walking has been found to have similar benefits. The psychologists from Iowa University explain the benefits of walking and mood improvement to the goal seeking behavior of early hunter gatherers. Movement or walking was always associated with a search for food, a quest that resulted in a reward. This is probably why walking generates an elevation of the mood through anticipation.
Dopamine Activity in the Brain
The psychologists concur that 'wanting', anticipation of something that could occur in the future results in the release of dopamine in the body. It helps in keeping the body motivated to continue the pursuit till the end goal or result is reached. 'Liking' is an emotion that is associated with appreciation of an event or object in the present. This results in the release of opoid activity in the brain.
The process of walking is a situation similar to 'wanting' where there is a continuous quest in anticipation of something. This results in elevation of the mood.
Dr. Jeffrey Miller and Dr. Zlatan Krizan said "movement not only causes increased positive affect [emotional feelings] ... but movement partially embodies, or in a sense reflects, positive affect."
Testing for Positive feelings
There were three studies that were conducted to evaluate the effect of walking on positive feeling. In the first study, one group of the study participants were asked to take a stroll around the campus while the other group of participants were made to sit and browse photos or watch videos. This part of the study found that participants who went on a stroll showed the effect of joy, vigor and self-assurance while the study participants who remained seated showed poor attentiveness and mood.
In the second study, the study participants were made to walk with an added pressure of having to write about their walking experience. The results showed that even with the added burden of having to write an essay at the end of the walk, the study participants showed better mood.
The third part of the study tested the effect of walking on the study participants by eliminating certain other factors associated with a positive attitude like sunshine and talking to other people on the way. The participants were made to walk on a treadmill and they continued to display a positive behavior after their walk.
Walk Away Your Blues
Walking not only boosts energy levels but it also helps in coping with stress and difficult moments in life. In a previous study by a group of researchers from the University of Michigan, walking was found to aid in coping with a difficult event in life, like a death or loss of a job.
Though walking on a treadmill indoors has also been found to bring about positivity, it is better to walk amongst nature when the sun shines brightly and there are exciting scenes to look out for. Taking a friend along can add to the experience.
A 12 minute walk is a good start to more extensive exercises, after all, no matter how unhappy you are walking out, you will feel much better after your walk. Take a stroll, take positive control.