The mental health benefits of walking outside cannot be emphasized enough.
You don’t need any special equipment and don’t need to respect opening hours. It’s available 24/7, there for your convenience.
Walking outside is good for your body and your mind. A daily walk will help you get through stressful situations, and a daily dose of fresh air will keep you healthy. It’s an incredible stress buster and makes you fitter while helping you lose weight if needed.
Read on to explore the positive effects and benefits of walking outside for your mental health.
Table of Contents
- 1 Mental health benefits of walking outside
- 2 Positive effects of walking for your brain
- 3 What actually happens to the brain when we move?
- 4 How should you walk for the best positive effects?
- 5 How do I make sure I actually go for a walk?
- 6 A few tips for an even more enjoyable walk
- 7 Mental health benefits of walking outside: Conclusion
Mental health benefits of walking outside
A way to meet other people
Hiking can be a way to meet new people. This can have benefits, unless you prefer solitude.
Did you know that you automatically adopt the same rhythm as the other person when you walk with someone else?
A common rhythm affects the mental experience.
Scientific research has also shown that synchronous people are more likely to align their thinking, feelings and goals.
So, for example, you can participate in an organized tour or join a hiking club.
Walking is relaxing
While walking, you can order your thoughts or set aside negative thoughts by focusing on your surroundings or your walking motion (your cadence).
The advantage of walking over running or biking is that you go slower and therefore have more time to pay attention to your surroundings.
You become one with your surroundings and unwind to the sounds of the wind rustling through the leaves, a babbling brook or a rustling animal.
So walking through nature works better than walking through the city.
It has even been proven that someone who walks for 45 minutes in nature feels less stressed afterward than someone who walks for 45 minutes in the city (and camping in nature also helps to relieve stress by the way).
Walking gives structure to your day
A daily walk can give structure to your day. Make it a regular habit to get out and about every day.
Especially during stressful times, it is very important to maintain a rhythm. Structure is important not only for children but also for adults.
Walking has a positive effect on creativity
During a walk, you often come up with the best ideas. Do you need to solve a difficult issue or just can’t seem to work out that tricky report for work? Get out there!
Several university studies have shown that walking significantly boosts the creative process.
In fact, a short walk would be conducive to creativity.
Exercise and walking can lift your mood
Another benefit of walking and exercise is that it is good for your mood. It immediately makes you a lot happier, which is great for yourself and for people around you.
Some people like to exercise individually, others prefer to exercise as a team.
Try to make a schedule or plan for yourself to really make time for this.
If people have busy schedules, they often leave exercise on their to-do list., but it is tremendously important to also get out and walk.
Walking helps to fight depression
When you go for a walk for half an hour daily, mental well-being improves.
It reduces the risk of depression and makes you feel better about yourself. You’ll feel fitter and have renewed energy to get going afterward.
If you like it better to go hiking or biking that’s totally fine too. The important thing is to get outside and have some fresh air.
Especially when you’ve been busy with school or work all day, it helps you wind down.
It’s important to keep it up every day and just go for a walk every day.
Fresh air gives new energy and makes you happy
When you feel gloomy, you often tend to stay inside. By going outside, you actually get distracted.
Those who walk produce more dopamine, a substance that can have euphoric effects. The great thing is that the more often you walk, the faster the effect occurs.
The fresh air of nature can also be positive for your mood and energy levels.
Do you really want to get a good breath of fresh air? Then find the beach.
A winter beach walk along the sea has a healing effect on the body and mind and can even help prevent mental and physical complaints.
Blue spaces such as rivers, lakes, streams, and the sea all positively impact your mental state and well-being.
Positive effects of walking for your brain
The benefits of walking for our health are now well known.
But physical activity also improves learning ability and long-term memory.
Exercise is also positive for your mental health (while dysbiosis is negative for your mental health). For example, walking can distract you from negative thoughts, increase your self-esteem and belief in your own abilities, and you will feel better about yourself.
But exercise also has a preventive effect against the development of various mental health problems.
What actually happens to the brain when we move?
Physical activity appears to increase the formation of neurons in our brains.
One of the two areas in the brain where new neurons are created is the hippocampus, important for learning and memory processes.
Also, more intense exercise releases the substance BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This substance plays a crucial role in the repair processes in the brain.
In addition, substances such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine are produced, making you happy.
How should you walk for the best positive effects?
Unfortunately, there is no general advice for this. The more intense your walk, the more positive effects you will experience.
You can hike in a variety of ways. Your own goal determines the pace and duration of your walk.
For example, if you want to recover from burnout symptoms and stress, it is good to walk briskly and walk for a little longer.
If you want to unwind and stop fretting for a while, it’s good to take a quiet walk through nature and take in your surroundings. Forty minutes of this is enough for major positive effects.
Adults should aim for at least 3 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, spread over several days.
With moderate-intensity exercise, your heart rate speeds up and sometimes you even sweat a little. You must feel that your body is doing something.
How do I make sure I actually go for a walk?
Often it is not a lack of willpower but a lack of a plan.
So come up with a personal goal: why do I want to hike? Is it to get fitter or to reduce stress?
Related post: Walking to lose weight: Best tips to burn fat
That way you can determine how much and what kind of exercise is right for you.
It also helps if you’ve got a walking partner to share the good and not-so-good moments with.
When you make arrangements together, you are more likely to actually get out and do it.
A few tips for an even more enjoyable walk
During your walk, focus on your surroundings, i.e. what you hear, see, feel, smell, etc. Alternate this all the time.
Walk for a minute while paying attention to the sounds around you (birds whistling in the forest, the rustling of the wind, etc.), then focus for a minute on what you see (colors, the sky, trees and flowers, etc.) and so on.
Take a camera with you while walking and photograph as many different plants, birds, buildings, conspicuous objects etc. etc. as possible.
This way, over time, you’ll have a nice collection of all kinds of things you’ve encountered on your walks.
Mental health benefits of walking outside: Conclusion
Science has long proven that walking (as well as other exercise) is great for your mental health. It’s a cheap, easy way to reduce stress and tension, and it has the added benefit of making your more fit both physically and mentally.
If you can manage a walk in a park, or in nature in general, try to concentrate on all the natural sounds around you. It works wonders. I promise.
So get those walking shoes on and get out there! Find out here What are the best shoes for obese walkers? A Guide