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6 Ways Walking Can Boost Your Mental & Emotional Health

by Jack Fleming

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Walking has always been touted as the most beneficial of exercises. It can help to get your body moving, work out your muscles and improve your overall health. But did you know that it can be just as good for your mental and emotional health as it is for your physical health?  

It’s true! And this is probably the reason why so many licensed therapists are including walking as part of their regular sessions and why yoga and walking retreats are booming. Nowadays you even see walking bereavement groups or other support groups cropping up. So, what is it about walking that’s so good for your mental health? Here are six ways in which walking can help you mentally and emotionally:


1. Walking can be a release 




If you are feeling particularly stressed, be it over something work-related or personal issues, walking can help you let go of that balled up feeling and get away from whatever it is that’s getting you down. The simple movement of walking can be soothing and the ability to literally “walk away” from your problems can be empowering. And it is far better for you than slamming around or screaming, which only serves to increase stress levels, so don’t fall into that trap!


2. Walking is good for the brain 




On a biochemical level, walking can help improve brain function. It’s a scientific fact that regular activity increases the production of neurons and the release of GABA, a neurotransmitter responsible for dampening brain activity and easing anxiety. S,o walking can help your body and mind to feel more relaxed and at ease. This can be important for individuals who are particularly affected by anxiety, but it can just as healing for anyone who is feeling stressed.


3. Walking can make you feel better, literally




The enhanced secretion of neurotransmitters can result in a more energized, happier emotional state. You’ll actually feel better…about yourself, about your day, and about those troubles which may not seem so bad anymore. It’s very similar to the reaction you’d get from taking a mood-enhancing drug, but without the danger of side effects! And that buzz you get from your 30-minute walk can last up to 12 hours or more, so it can positively affect your whole day.


4. Walking can help you put things in perspective 




This is particularly true if you choose to walk outdoors, surrounded by the vastness of nature. Suddenly, those problems that were weighing on you just don’t seem to be so significant anymore. You’ll be able to see yourself as just one small part of a much larger world and your problems as even smaller still, which can be tremendously healing on an emotional level. And it can be particularly helpful to get your focus on something other than your troubles, whether it is the chirping of the birds or the bubbling of a stream.


5. Walking can help you connect 




This is where the idea of walking therapy or support groups comes in, but it works just as well if you’re just taking a walk with a friend or loved one. Having someone else to share the experience with can help you no longer feel lonely and less like you’re battling all those emotional demons singlehandedly, which can be very healing. At the same time, it can be easier to open up when you’re in a more relaxed setting. Even walking with your dog can work on this count; it’s all about having another living being to interact with.


6. Walking can help you prepare for your day 




Whether you’re walking to work or just taking an early morning stroll, a walk is a great time to get your thoughts in order and prepare for what you have to do that day.  And according to therapists, engaging in any repetitive motion can help the brain to process thoughts and memories easier, so it can be a great way to set yourself up for a good, productive day.


Learn more about the benefits of walking and other articles by Jack on AllEllipticals.com

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