5 Fantastic Ways Walking Boosts Your Emotional & Mental Health

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.

― Søren Kierkegaard

Our health has many dynamic branches, with each intricately connected and needing regular attention, maintenance, and care. Whether it’s your physical, mental, or emotional health, they all need a check-up from time to time!

This is perhaps why walking is such a wonderful and widely recommended activity, as walking brings the unique benefit of addressing our mental and emotional health alongside the physical. (With so many activities crammed into our hectic lives, how can you NOT love an opportunity to naturally multi-task?!)

By creating a daily routine of walking, you can simultaneously strengthen your body, soul, and mind—and how awesome is that?! You may not realize it, but here are five fantastic ways that walking can improve your emotional and mental health:

1. It Decreases Stress

On those days where you feel especially stressed out or anxious, going for a walk is a great way to clear your thoughts and take some deep breaths. It’s even better if you can take a walk while surrounded by nature—being outdoors amidst trees and flowers will create a much more relaxing environment than, say, walking on a busy road with cars rushing by.

Once you remove distractions and noise—like traffic, an upcoming project at work, or that lingering conversation that you’re convinced could have been better— you’ll find that stressors begin to melt away. Combine that lack of distraction with the steady movement of walking, and you have the perfect opportunity to create your own “zen-like” escape.

2. It Improves Creativity

Walking is becoming a popular way for companies and businesses to spark creative discussion—from mid-afternoon walking breaks to quick chat sessions from one end of the hallway to the other, there’s something uniquely beneficial about how walking can dislodge new ideas.

In fact, Stanford researchers found that the average person’s creative output increased by 60 percent while walking! Whether you want to generate ideas for your next presentation or get rid of that pesky writer’s block, you can spend a few minutes walking indoors or outdoors—you’ll get the same creative benefits either way.

3. IT INCREASES ENERGY

It sounds like a contradiction, but introducing exercise into your daily routine will actually improve your energy levels over the long-term—and this includes walking! In fact, consistent, low intensity exercise has been found to reduce overall fatigue levels by as much as 65 percent, according to a study at the University of Georgia.

If you find yourself hitting that wall of fatigue in the late afternoon and struggling to recover, you may want to consider adding a morning or lunch-time walk into your schedule to stave off sleepiness and give your energy the kick-start it needs!

4. IT IMPROVES SLEEP

Daily walking is a great way to regulate your sleep hormones, like melatonin. While of course it won’t do you much good to go for a fast-paced walk right before you hit the hay, you may want to try a relaxed evening stroll before going to bed to prepare your body and mind for sleep.

5. IT BOOSTS SELF-ESTEEM

There are TONS of ways that walking can improve your self-esteem, depending on your unique personality, emotions, and thought process. Walking can leave you feeling better about yourself through a number of benefits, including: improved physical fitness, increased endorphins, higher energy levels, decreased anxiety, elevated mood, and more.

Spiritually, walking becomes a physical symbol for movement, an invitation to push forward and leave behind negative thoughts and emotions that are weighing you down, making you feel stuck, and generating feelings of isolation or loneliness.

For many, walking pushes away those clouds and provides a space for hope to come in, clearing away negative energy, improving mood, and boosting self-esteem in the process.

After You Walk–Share Your Story!

How has walking helped improve your own emotional or mental health? Have you experienced a unique benefit that you don’t see listed here? Don’t be shy—find me on Instagram or Facebook and let the Walking With America community know! I would love to hear your personal stories and share in all of your successes!

As always, don’t forget to #walkwithme every Saturday morning as we all share a moment of our lives together and come to a happier, healthier understanding of our world.

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