Walking and Mental Health: The Benefits

Walking is an enjoyable and accessible form of physical activity that has numerous benefits for our physical health. It is also increasingly recognised as a powerful tool for improving mental health and well-being. In this article, we will explore the relationship between walking and mental health, and how you can use walking as part of your self-care routine to improve your mood, reduce stress, and enhance your overall sense of well-being.

The Benefits of Walking for Mental Health

Walking has been shown to have a range of benefits for mental health. Here are just a few of the ways that walking can support our well-being:

  • Reducing Stress and Anxiety: Walking can help to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that regular walking can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by up to 47% (Bradley et al., 2011).
  • Boosting Mood: Walking can also help to boost our mood by increasing levels of serotonin, another neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating our emotions. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that a 30-minute walk in nature can significantly improve mood and cognitive function (Berman et al., 2012).
  • Improving Cognitive Function: Walking has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory and attention. A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that regular walking can improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of developing dementia (Erickson et al., 2010).

In addition to these mental health benefits, walking is also a great way to improve physical health. It can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and can also help to maintain a healthy weight.

How to Incorporate Walking into Your Self-Care Routine

If you’re interested in using walking as part of your self-care routine, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Set a goal: Whether it’s walking for 30 minutes a day, or taking a daily lunchtime stroll, setting a goal can help to motivate you and keep you on track.
  • Find a walking partner: Walking with a friend or family member can make it more enjoyable and help to keep you accountable.
  • Take advantage of nature: Walking in nature has been shown to have additional benefits for mental health, so try to find a park, trail, or other natural areas to walk in if possible.
  • Use your phone’s pedometer: A pedometer can help you track your steps and stay motivated to reach your walking goals.
  • Make it a habit: Like any self-care practice, consistency is key. Try to make walking a regular part of your routine, whether it’s daily or a few times a week.


Walking is a simple yet powerful tool for improving our mental and physical health. By reducing stress and anxiety, boosting our mood, and improving cognitive function, walking can be an effective form of self-care for those looking to enhance their well-being. By incorporating walking into your daily routine, you can experience the numerous benefits that this exercise has to offer.


Bradley, E., Spates, C. R., & Herring, M. P. (2011). Walking is associated with lower anxiety in employees with high occupational stress. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45(15), 1202-1205. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2011-090184

Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2012). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological Science, 23(12)

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