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Walk Yourself Happy

Shorter days got you feeling blue? This time of year, with the shorter days comes less sunshine and that is proven to increase the number of people suffering from depression. There are steps you can take –literally – to keep you in a positive state of mind. It is all in the way you walk. By adding a bounce to your step and a greater swing to your arms, you can actually walk yourself to happiness.

Walking alone can improve your mood – however, a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, found your gait may also have an effect on your state of mind. This study, conducted by researchers from Queen’s University and from two universities in Germany, found participants were more inclined to focus on the negative if they walked in a certain manner; more specifically, with slumped shoulders, head down and with just a slight swing to the arms. In contrast, those with a happy gait characterized by a bounce in the step and widely swinging arms had a more positive focus.

Key to this study is the positive focus. The way you feel has a direct effect on your memory biases. If you feel good, you remember good things. And by remembering those good things, you feel good. Simply put, walking well can make you feel good. Previous studies have found that simply smiling can reduce stress. Add a gait with a bounce and a swing to the arms, and you have a powerful stress reliever.

There are little changes you can make in your everyday to increase your walking time – take the stairs instead of the elevator, don’t worry about getting a great parking spot – walk that little extra to the door, and hey, forget about driving to the gym – walk. It is that simple.

So get out there, put some bounce in your step, let those arms swing, and heck, smile too. Walking well – this simple exercise reduces stress levels and will certainly make you healthier and happier.

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