We've all been there. The Monday morning blues. The is-it-five-yet mid-afternoon slump. No matter what's dragging your down, scientists have discovered a simple antidote to boost your mood. This activity will instantly energize you, no matter when or where you do it. Here are your instructions.
Put one foot in front of the other.
Repeat for 10 minutes.
Yep, the ordinary act of walking can significantly impact your mood. A recent study explored the positive effects of walking, even when subjects were dreading a task at the end of their walk.
Walk it off
Psychologists at the University of Iowa conducted several experiments in which hundreds of students walked for 10-12 minutes outdoors, indoors through boring campus buildings or on treadmills. Other students remained seated while looking at photos or watching videos of the same walking routes. The effects were always the same. Even when the students were dreading the walk (because they had to write a two-page essay at the end), the movement still boosted their moods. Students who remained seated reported less positive moods at the end of the study.
This study is unique because the researchers were able to isolate the act of walking as the sole reason subjects' moods improved. The positive effects of exercise have been well-researched, but often studies include other components that could influence results -- perhaps they take place in nature or involve walking with a colleague. It turns out you don't need to find a nature-filled walking path or invite a walking buddy to feel the mood-enhancing effects. You just need to go for a walk, even if the scenery and companionship is lacking.
"If you are feeling disengaged or sluggish, and you desire to energize yourself, take a brisk walk around the block or through the cubicles," Jeffrey Miller, one of the study's co-authors says. "Your feelings of engagement will very likely increase, and all those things you might have wanted to be doing should seem less imposing."