People can often feel down in winter. It’s not surprising given the shorter days and lack of sunlight. We also prefer to stay indoors where it’s warm and cozy. Besides, who wants to go through the hassle of putting on winter clothes? So, how can you boost your mood?
You know what I’m going to say. Take a walk.
It’s not just me though. Research has shown that taking a walk can boost your mood.
Get Your Blood Pumping
Regular exercise increases blood and energy flow to the brain improving mental alertness. Even something as simple as walking works. Studies have shown that consistently elevating the pace of a 15-minute walk daily can boost mental sharpness and improve thinking skills. So, take a 10-minute walk. Park your car a bit further away. Hike up and down some stairs. It all makes a difference.
Mind Your Walking Style
It’s not just taking a walk that affects your mood, how you walk has an affect too.
About Health posted an item about researchers at Queen’s University who tested this theory using words and a specially rigged treadmill. First the research subject reviewed a list of words, some positive and some negative. Then, they were asked to walk on a treadmill to which a gauge was attached. They soon discovered that they could affect the movement of the gauge by how they walked. A ‘depressed’ style of walking (e.g. slumped shoulders) moved it to the left. A peppy walk (e.g. straight shoulders, bounce in the step) moved it to the right.
After the treadmill session, the research subjects were asked to write down as many words from the initial list as they could remember. What they found was that those who had a more ‘depressed’ style of walking remembered more of the negative words, suggesting that a slumped style of walking resulted in a more negative outlook.
Perk Up Your Afternoon With A Lunchtime Walk
Instead of relying on coffee to fight off afternoon drowsiness, take a walk at lunch instead. An article in Men’s Health reviews a study from Australia showing that employees who took a 30-minute walk at lunch were more enthusiastic and relaxed during the afternoon than those who didn’t.
The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, in partnership with Hike Ontario and Conservation Ontario, runs a Mood Walks program to help other organizations run educational walking hikes. The idea is to get out and explore local natural environments and conservation areas, improving your mood at the same time.
So get up and get walking to stay in a sunny mood no matter what the weather conditions.