Stride Bright: Walk Your Way to a Happier Mood

Feeling down and overwhelmed with negative thoughts? Believe it or not, changing the way you walk might just be the key to walking away from depression. A study from Queen’s University in Canada reveals that people who walk with a “depressed style” tend to experience darker moods than those who walk in a more upbeat manner. So, let’s learn how to put a pep in our step and walk away from depression!

Depressed Walking vs. Happy Walking

A person’s walking style reflects their mood. Those walking with a “depressed style” are characterized by limited arm movement, hunched shoulders, and a rounded posture, while individuals who walk in a “happy style” appear more lively and confident. The study aimed to determine whether changing one’s walking style can also affect their mood.

Participants in the study were asked to walk on a treadmill in either a happy or sad style. Afterward, they were tested on word recall related to their mood. Results showed that individuals who walked in a depressed manner were more likely to recall negative words, whereas happy walkers recalled more positive words.

These results demonstrate the strong connection between one’s mood, physical stance, memory, and feelings. Lead researcher Nikolaus Troje has observed that clinically depressed individuals tend to remember negative events more vividly than positive ones, especially events that damage their self-worth. Recalling negative memories can lead to a vicious cycle, further exacerbating feelings of worthlessness.

Breaking the Cycle of Depression Through Walking

If individuals can break this self-perpetuating cycle, then walking may serve as an effective tool for combating depressive thoughts. As social beings, humans frequently observe and perceive information from others, drawing from various sources to understand their behaviors. By consciously changing the way we walk, we can positively impact our mental state, boost our self-esteem, and improve our mood.

Here are some tips to transform your walking style:

  1. Stand tall: Practice maintaining good posture by keeping your chest open, shoulders relaxed, and spine straight. This signals confidence and self-assuredness.

  2. Swing your arms: Keep your arms loose by your side and let them move naturally as you walk. This natural swinging motion promotes a sense of ease and gracefulness.

  3. Watch your step: Pay attention to the length of your stride and the way your foot lands on the ground. Aim for a smooth, even gait that reveals balance and stability.

  4. Breathe deeply: Take deep breaths while walking to regulate your pace and ensure that your body is well-oxygenated. Breathing deeply can also help you relax and reduce tension.

  5. Smile: Smiling causes the brain to release feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin, which can improve your overall mood and outlook.

Walking with a lighter, more joyful stride can not only improve your mood but also help prevent future bouts of depression. Keep these tips in mind whenever you find yourself trudging along in a “depressed style.”

Walking: A Therapeutic Tool for Mental Health

Walking has long been praised for its physical health benefits but has also gained attention for its positive effects on mental health. Walking can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as improve mood, promote relaxation, and increase self-esteem.

Organizations like Walk and Talk Therapy and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention endorse walking as a therapeutic tool for mental well-being. By embracing a happy walking style and actively working on changing your mental state, walking may become more than just a physical exercise – it can be a powerful path to combating depression.

Incorporate walking into your daily routine, and step away from negative thoughts, one stride at a time. Embrace the power of movement for a brighter, happier you!