It’s official: walking off a negative mood, and seeing quick results no matter what your speed, is possible.
A team of researchers at Iowa State University have confirmed that walking can blast away a negative mood. Better still, it does not need to be a fast aerobic stroll. Astonishingly, a 12-minute walk at speeds of just 3mph will raise a bad mood.
A study involving 400 undergraduates at Iowa State University and published in the Journal Of New Emotion has confirmed this amazing fact.
Surprisingly, the researchers also found that the walk location was unimportant. Forget the thought of the beautiful Sussex downs in autumn hues. Participants who merely walked around an urban, drab and featureless university concourse (not to shame those at Iowa – many campuses aren’t easy on the eye) were just as likely to report an improvement in mood as those who had walked in beautiful surroundings.
Even students who walked on a treadmill for 12 minutes reported an increased mood. In contrast, those who sat at the end of the treadmill waiting for their friends felt worse than when they entered the gym.
Walking Off a Bad Mood: Why You Should Try It
Jeffrey Miller, study author and assistant professor at Saint Xavier University, said: “There seems to be something about that brisk, purposeful walk that is really good for you.”
The study increases the previously held view that even a short walk can be a valuable counter-measure in a difficult situation. So, what are you waiting for? You could take some of the heat out of that imminent meeting with the boss. It is certainly worth a try.
These findings also add weight to the already well-known physical benefits of walking. Previous research has concluded that regular walking can slow dementia progression, prevent osteoarthritis, lower overall cancer risk and help in weight and blood pressure maintenance.
Try walking the next time you feel stress or worry clouding your thoughts: no matter the location, the walk itself could make a tangible difference to your mood.
Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist, PsychD, BSc, MSc, C.Psychol, C.Sci, AFBPS. Dr Tizzard is the Clinical Director of Christine Tizzard Psychology (ctpsy.co.uk).