Taking a “Mindfulness Walk” improves mood

Do you want to be happier? Maybe all you need to do is take a “mindfulness walk”!

Practicing “mindfulness: involves becoming aware of your automatic reactions and recognizing what is happening all around you.” Mindfulness has previously been used to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress, and this study suggests that pairing mindfulness with walking increases positive affect.

This experience sampling study monitored participants as they took mindfulness walks for either 1, 3, 6, or 10 days.

Before and after their walks, participants answered questions assessing depression, anxiety, stress, and brooding.

During the walks, the participants were prompted with questions about

  • their present state of mind,
  • how they were responding to emotions, and
  • how they were perceiving their surroundings.

The researchers found that walking improved mindfulness and positive affect. Further, they found that mindfulness predicted more positive affect and less negative affect in the moment.

This study was the first to examine the relationship between mindfulness and momentary affect, and more studies are needed to provide a clearer picture. Nevertheless, the next time you feel down, try taking a mindful walk! You might be surprised how you feel afterwards.

Gotink, R. A., Hermans, K. S. F. M., Geschwind, N., De Nooij, R., De Groot, W. T., & Speckens, A. E. M. (2016). Mindfulness and mood stimulate each other in an upward spiral: a mindful walking intervention using experience sampling. Mindfulness, 7(5), 1114–1122. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0550-8