Walking can improve mood and increase happiness especially if we use a mental technique recommended by a studio
A strategy to apply during your walk that will make you feel much better about yourself
Walking is good for the body but also for the mind and consequently we should take advantage of this good habit also to feel better about ourselves, gaining happiness. A study reveals a "mental trick" to be put in place while we walk just to improve the mood.
It's hard to find a simpler and more affordable way to gain health and longevity. We are talking about walking, a healthy habit that can offer many benefits that we have talked about several times: strengthen the heart, help fitness by promoting weight loss, develop creativity and much more. Among the most evident benefits there is also the positive action on the mood.
Read also: Walking: 10 reasons to do it at least 30 minutes a day
If in particular, during our walk, we need to feel better and we want to favor a more optimistic view of things, we could take advantage of a specific mental technique Iowa State University researchers talk about in a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
What is it about? We explain it to you.
To carry out the study, the researchers asked a group of college students to walk for 12 minutes practicing one of the following mental techniques:
- The "loving kindness" technique: These students were taught to think only positively about the people they noticed as they walked (eg “I wish this person were happy“). While it was impossible to guarantee their sincerity, the study authors encouraged the participants to truly believe what they were thinking.
- The interconnection technique: This group was asked to look at others and reflect on how we are all connected, imagining that other people have similar hopes, dreams, fears and interests.
- The downward social confrontation technique: This group was told to look down on others and treat them as if they were better off than everyone else.
There was also a control group which obviously served as a comparison for the other groups. These students were asked to focus only on the physical appearance of others (clothing, style, makeup, etc.).
Before and after each participant's walk, the study authors conducted surveys on levels of anxiety, happiness, stress, empathy, and connection. Data in hand, the research team compared the feelings of the first three experimental groups with the fourth control group.
The results were astonishing. Students who were assigned to the loving-kindness group experienced much less anxiety and more happiness, empathy, feelings of caring, and interconnectedness. Likewise, the participants in the interconnected group were more empathetic and connected with others.
In contrast, the subjects who compared each other looking down on the others showed zero benefits in relation to the control group. In fact, they even reported feeling significantly worse: more isolated, less empathetic, and less caring.
As one of the study's authors, Douglas Gentile, professor of psychology at ISU, stated:
Walking and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection. It's a simple strategy that doesn't take a lot of time and that you can incorporate into your daily activities.
Another thing the study found is that this technique works for everyone. Researchers had evaluated the possibility that some personalities, for example the more narcissistic ones, would have difficulty desiring the good of others, while more aware individuals could benefit more from the strategy of loving-kindness.
Surprisingly, only minor differences were noted between personality types, and Lanmiao He, another study author commented:
This simple practice is valuable regardless of personality type. Extending loving-kindness to others has worked equally well to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, empathy, and feelings of social connection.
In short, adding some loving kindness as we walk could be the secret ingredient to give a little more happiness to our days. Let's try!
Also read all of our articles on the benefits of walking.
Fonte: Journal of Happiness Studies
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