A study published in the journal Emotion this summer shows that the simple act of taking a walk relieves negative emotions.
The study included 400 undergraduate students at Iowa State University whose moods were noted after participating in three different experiments.
The first asked subjects to take a walk around campus. The second asked subjects to take a walk through the interior of a rather dull campus building for purposes of writing a paper on what they found. The third asked some subjects to walk on a treadmill while others sat beside it. In all three tests where subjects were walking, improved moods were reported. Subjects reported feeling more positive, self-assured and attentive, while those who sat beside the treadmill in the third experiment (the control test) reported diminished moods.
The study confirms that taking a walk, no matter where, how fast and with what purpose, improves mood and better prepares people for uncomfortable or difficult tasks (like writing a paper in experiment 2).
Previous research shows that walking may also reduce dementia, lower cancer risks and keep weight and blood pressure at healthy levels.