Mental Health Benefits of Walking

Robert Buckhannon

March 24, 2023

Walking is a low-impact form of exercise that can help you meet your daily recommended amounts of physical activity. Plus, it’s easy to do at home, no matter your age or fitness level.

Regularly walking at a brisk pace can help lower your cholesterol numbers, reducing your risk of heart disease and other conditions. It also strengthens your muscles and bones.

Strengthens Muscles and Bones

Walking is a great way to strengthen your bones and muscles because it uses weight-bearing aerobic exercise. These workouts, like walking and climbing stairs, help your bones work harder than they would normally to support your body’s weight.

These exercises are also beneficial for those with osteoporosis, an age-related condition that reduces bone density and increases the risk of fractures.

When you walk, your muscles contract, which stimulates your bones to grow stronger and thicker. This process is called bone remodeling, or densifying.

To stress your bones and encourage them to grow, try adding weights to your walks, such as ankle weights or hand weights. This type of workout is referred to as walking with weights, and it’s a safe and effective way to strengthen your bones.

Walking is also a low-impact exercise that helps you burn calories and improve your mood, which can boost your mental health and keep you more motivated. The government recommends brisk walking five times weekly for at least 30 minutes.

Reduces anxiety and depression

Walking is one of the most common forms of physical activity, and it comes with a lot of mental health benefits.  It can help you reduce anxiety and depression, improve your sleep, and boost your confidence and self-esteem.

It also helps you feel more socially engaged, which may make you more likely to open up to others.  Getting more exercise also reduces your risk of developing diabetes and other health problems.

Taking a walk in nature can have even more positive effects on your mood. Studies have shown that walking in a natural setting can decrease rumination—repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.

Ideally, you should try to walk for 30 minutes, five days per week. However, you can break this up to suit your schedule and your current fitness level.

Increases Energy Levels

Walking is an easy, low-impact form of exercise that can boost your energy levels. It burns calories, improves circulation, and increases your heart rate.

It also helps strengthen your muscles and bones, which reduces fatigue. Plus, it can lower your risk of chronic diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

If you are a beginner to walking, it is best to start with short distances and increase the time and intensity of your walks over time. This can help you build your endurance and confidence in exercising.

Adding small intervals to your walking routine can also help you get more calorie-burning benefits, suggests Michele Stanten, a physical activity coach in San Francisco. For example, you can alternate between walking almost as fast as you can and a slower, brisk walk for a total of 25 minutes.

In addition to its physical benefits, walking can also benefit your mood and boost creativity. One study found that, compared to seated subjects, walkers were more jovial and had a higher level of self-confidence.

Improves mental health

A simple self-care routine can boost your mental health and reduce anxiety and depression. You can start with a few minutes of brisk walking and slowly build up to a longer time. It’s also important to keep your walks social—walking with friends or family helps you connect and feel more supported.

Improved mood: During a walk, your brain releases endorphins, a natural pain reliever that helps calm your nervous system and improve your overall well-being. These chemicals make you feel good and increase your confidence, says Dr. Jampolis, author of “Walking: A Life-Changing Journey”.

Anxiety and Depression: Research has shown that a regular brisk walk can reduce stress and depression.  These conditions can interfere with your sleep and energy levels, affecting your daily life.

A recent study found that people who walked regularly had better emotional health than those who didn’t. However, this study was limited by the fact that the participants did not have information on how long they walked. Additionally, there were many factors that influenced individuals’ mental health, such as the quality of their living environment and their physical exercise style.