I was surprised by how much I didn’t want to walk.
Since 2013, walking has been my exercise, my escape, my passion. And, yet, on this March morning in 2021 I felt paralyzed sitting in my chair.
This morning walk I take every day is always one of the best parts of my day, but not that day. I simply didn’t want to do it. It had been a hard few months after my wife’s car accident, but she was finally out of the wheelchair and didn’t need nearly as much help as she did in those early post-accident weeks.
Maybe the weight of what we had just been through was holding me back. I don’t know. All I know is the idea of leaving the house for a walk was the last thing I wanted to do.
WANT TO FEEL BETTER?
In 2016, some researchers wanted to quantify the impact of walking on our mood. Is walking a mood lifter? How much do the circumstances surrounding our walk matter? How long do we need to walk to emotionally feel better?
The study happened on a college campus. They got a bunch of students and divided them into two groups. One group sat in their dorm rooms…the other went for a walk. And, guess what? The group that went for a walk felt happier afterwards.
The researchers actually drilled down even further. They placed the walking group in three different situations. The first had them walking through the halls of their campus buildings. In other words, the walkers didn’t go outside in nature. Instead, they walked through gray, boring, artificially lit hallways. They still ended up feeling better.
The second situation was even more “depressing.” The students were told they had to write an essay when they were done walking. Who likes writing essays? No one. That’s why students always wait until the last possible moment to get started. That meant these students were now walking with this unpleasant task hanging over their heads. It didn’t matter. Walking still made them feel better.
The third situation placed the students on a treadmill. Yep, they still felt better than the group that was sitting.
The evidence confirms that if you’re feeling low, stressed, or angry, a walk will help you feel better. And, here’s the other part of this research. All it took was a 12-minute walk. That’s all you need!
JUST GO FOR A WALK
I forced myself out of the chair and went for a walk on that sad morning. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but the thing I most needed to do. And, it worked. I felt much better within minutes of leaving the house.
If you need a mood lifter…go for a walk. Don’t worry about the exercise benefits, or how fast you’re walking, or how many steps you need…just get up and go!
And, if you want a walking companion listen to my podcast, “Walking is Fitness.” This is a daily podcast that I record as I’m walking. We can walk together! And, most episodes last close to 12 minutes.
I like to think of it as a podcast of happiness!