How Walking Can Improve Your Mood

By Erin Palinski-Wade

Exercise, such as walking, can play a major role in your overall mood as it helps to boost endorphins, or “feel‐good” chemicals in the brain. The term runner’s high refers to this process too — a boost in these endorphins after exercise, which essentially provides you with a feeling of euphoria. Well, running isn’t the only form of exercise that can make you feel good.

Walking may actually help to lift mood more than running! Research found that walkers reported feeling better than their running counterparts not only after completing exercise, but while doing it as well. And this lift in mood isn’t short‐lived. Just 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as walking, has been found to be enough to provide your body with increased energy and a lifted mood for as much as 12 hours!

Walking may also help in the fight against depression. About 9 percent of American adults suffer from depression according to the CDC. In addition, about 3 percent of adults suffer from major depression, which is a long‐lasting, severe form of depression and the leading cause of disability in Americans between the ages of 15 and 44 years.

Although medical intervention and treatment is often necessary to manage depression, walking may help in the fight against this disease as well.

One study found that by walking just 30 minutes per day, individuals with major depression reported a 40 percent improvement in well‐being and an 85 percent increase in energy levels as opposed to those who did not walk.

Walking for just 30 minutes per day five days per week has been found to boost energy, help adults feel more confident and healthier, and even improve their ability to complete daily tasks — all traits that can help to lift mood and fight depressive symptoms.

In fact, exercise can play such a major role in the fight against depression that research has shown burning off just 350 calories three times per week though moderate exercise, such as walking, can reduce the symptoms of depression almost as effectively as antidepressant medication. Exercise such as walking can also work in combination with therapy and medications to control and treat severe depression.

Another benefit of walking on a regular basis, especially outdoors, is an increase in vitamin D levels. A deficiency of vitamin D has been linked with an increased risk of depression as well as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Although vitamin D is available in some foods, such as dairy products, many people, especially those who work indoors or live in the northern hemisphere where sunlight is limited during parts of the year, are at risk of deficiency.

Having your vitamin D levels tested and monitored can help you determine whether your levels are low and additional vitamin D supplementation or increased sun exposure may be needed. Discuss having your vitamin D levels checked with your physician or order a vitamin D test inexpensively and easily online. Always discuss the results with your healthcare provider before adding or changing any supplement.