TrekDesk has written a lot over the years about the importance of walking through out the day to enhance health backed by hundreds of studies focusing on distance, duration and walking speeds however little has been written about specific styles of walking. A new study shows that style definitely makes a difference.


The study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research found that how we walk is an important component to mental health.




Walking Style Affects Mood


Many of us recognize when friends are co-workers seem sad or depressed simply by noting the way they walk, slow and slump shouldered, lacking any pep in their step. What many may not realize is that by mimicking a happier gait their moods can be altered and in very short order.


The study involved showing test subjects a list of negative and/or positive words then measuring their gate and posture while they walked on a treadmill. A screen showed participants a left/right moving gauge indicative of their mood though they had no previous knowledge of its relevancy. Researchers prompted study participants to move the gauge in specific directions (left or right). Researchers also had study subjects walk with less arm movement and shoulders slumped forward or in a more active style of motion.


Participants were then tested on the words they could remember from the earlier lists of words provided. Those walking in a depressed manner were able to list significantly more negative words than positive. The inability to diffuse negative events is a major tenant of clinical depression and researchers believe that mood, motion and memory are intertwined. In effect a depressed walking style heightens the risk for a depressed mood, while a positive, assertive walking style promotes happiness. The study bore out this hypothesis.


This effect has been shown in previous studies on the effect of smiling and laughing where test subjects were found to decrease depression symptoms simply by forcing more smiles and laughter into their day.


Positive moods have previously been found to increase creativity and productivity and we have reported on hundreds of studies that show the physical and mental health benefits of walking slowly through out the work day.


The take away from these studies is simple. If you are striving to stay happy and health in life – stay in motion during the day, put some pep in your step and a smile on your face.


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