Walking, especially outdoors, benefits your mood, mental health, and brain function
Art by Tricia Guevara | Photo by Arek Adeoye/Unsplash
There’s something about walking that sets it apart from other physical activities. For one, walking outside involves nature—a stimulus that offers great benefits to the body and brain. There’s an emerging body of research that proves why walking, especially outdoors, boosts mental and physical health.
It eases mental fatigue
A study published in 2018 found that walking outside can actually improve your mood more than a treadmill workout. The same study also showed its therapeutic advantages—relaxation, calm, and revitalization—which work best if you’re stressed.
Being exposed to nature has also been known to lower blood pressure and promote physical healing. It’s the reason why Greek physician Hippocrates once said that walking is “man’s best medicine.” Moreover, the attention restoration theory states that you tend to concentrate better if you are exposed to nature.
It transports you to another world
Another study in the U.S. found that over 87 percent of people spend most of their time indoors. If you combine this with a lack of physical exercise, chances are you’re going to experience negative changes in your mood. This is where the magic of walking comes in because it exposes you to a different environment while giving you the benefits of physical activity.
Psychologists believe that a curative environment must have three factors: a place where you can escape from your daily routine; visual and sensory elements; and an environment that covers a wide expanse. And walking outdoors can afford all three. Even in cities, a visit to a park or a green space can help.
It is great exercise for the brain and heart
There’s research proving that sitting is the real silent killer but going for a walk can negate that. Walking influences your brain (by improving blood flow and hormone levels) and body (your behavior), which impacts your daily performance. If you’re in a creative rut or feel you’ve become more forgetful, go for a 10-minute walk to improve memory function and brain coordination.
The low-impact activity has also been studied to provide plenty of health benefits: it sends a hydraulic wave throughout your body to increase blood flow to the brain; it aids the heart and gut by providing more oxygen; and it decreases risks of suffering from heart disease and stroke by about 35 percent.