Stroll outside, with friendsiStock/Milan Zeremski
A British study of nearly 2,000 adults found that those who’d recently endured a major life stressor (job loss, divorce, the death of a loved one) experienced a significant mood boost after they took a walk outside with others. A group nature walk may be a “very powerful, under-utilized stress buster,” senior study author Sara L. Warber, MD, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, said in a press release. Here are more non-food ways to boost your mood.
Bring your poochiStock/AJ_Watt
In a University of Missouri study, people who walked with a dog increased their walking speed by 28 percent over a 12-week period, while those who walked with a friend or spouse only increased their pace by 4 percent. People tend to whine or talk each other out of workouts, while dogs are always up for a stroll, study author Rebecca Johnson, PhD, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Missouri, told Women’s Health.
Add a spring to your stepiStock/g-stockstudio
Your gait can impact your mood, according to Canadian research. People were shown a list with both positive (“pretty”) and negative (“afraid”) words, then walked on a treadmill in either a depressed style—shoulders hunched forward, arms dangling—or a more upbeat way. Hunched-over people remembered far more negative words than those who had a happier pace. Skipping your way down the street may help trick your body into feeling more happy and energetic. Don't miss these other natural energy boosters.
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Walk for 15 minutes to quell a sugar cravingiStock/stocksnapper
People who walked before doing an office assignment snacked on half the amount of chocolate as people who didn’t get any exercise beforehand, according to a study in the journal Appetite.
Walk after every meal to steady your blood sugariStock/vitapix
A quick post-meal walk helps clear sugar from the blood, preventing spikes that can take a toll on people with diabetes or who are at risk of developing it, according to a 2013 study in Diabetes Care. These lifestyle habits can also help you achieve healthier blood sugar levels.
Put your phone awayiStock/Leonardo Patrizi
More than 1,500 pedestrians were estimated to be treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries related to using a cell phone while walking—a number that’s more than doubled since 2005. And it’s likely a gross underestimate of injuries, since not all people who are hurt go to the ER. Tempted to text or sneak a peek at your email? Just don’t.
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Use a tracker for motivationiStock/franckreporter
It’s 7 p.m. and you’ve logged 9,400 steps—what happens next? You’ll probably find a way to squeeze in another 600 to hit the recommended 10,000 steps a day. In a 2013 study from Indiana University, adults who wore a pedometer for 12 weeks reduced their average sitting time from 4 hours a day to 3.3. They also lost about 2.5 pounds each. Here are other surprising ways your fitness tracker affects your health.