Do Gratitude Walks Make You Happier? The Benefits of Walking for Your Health

Do Gratitude Walks Make You Happier? The Benefits of Walking for Your Health

The health benefits of walking are undisputed. Research is clear that walking benefits the heart, brain, joints, and even your mental health.1 Walking is also associated with healthy aging as studies show it can enhance health-related physical fitness, balance, and life satisfaction.2 Walking also helps control blood sugar and body weight and reduces the risk of anxiety and depression while also helping with sleep.3 That’s a long list of benefits! But is it possible to enhance your walking routine to get even more health benefits? The answer is a resounding yes!

Three Ways to Enhance Your Walking Routine

Here are three strategies to consider when trying to enhance your walking routine. 

  1. Focus on the number of steps you take. Walking 10,000 steps was all the rage but then some people questioned this number. Research has confirmed, however, that 10,000 steps are a great daily walking goal when it comes to protecting and enhancing health. 4
  2. Walk with a purpose. Studies show that the pace of your walking can make a difference. In a 2022 study that followed more than 78,000 people for nearly seven years, the researchers found that not only was it important to get close to 10,000 steps daily but taking “purposeful” steps (40 steps per minute or more) was even better for health, in particular brain health. 5
  3. Engage in awe-inspiring walking. Walking is great but adding in appreciation of your surroundings is even better according to research into “awe walks.” Think of awe walks as taking in everything that surrounds you and being grateful for it (we like to call it gratitude walks, too). A 2020 study that split people into two groups, regular walkers and awe walkers found that the awe walkers reported less distress and more joy, compassion, and gratitude compared to the regular walkers.6 What’s an awe walk? It’s when you take note of the awe around you as you walk. Perhaps it’s a cluster of trees, birds flying overhead, interesting cloud formations, or beautiful flowers. Snap photos or make mental awe notes as you walk for even more benefit. 

Walk This Way

It can be fun to take something good and make it even better. And that’s what you can do when it comes to your walking routine. Consider embracing the 10,000-step goal, pick up your pace, and find the awe in every step. It’s time to step it up!

Ready to step into walking as a daily practice? Consider taking it outside and learn about four benefits of being outdoors. For more tips on nutrition, staying healthy and motherhood follow us on Facebook @kalvits and Instagram at @kalvitamins!

References

  1.  Arthritis Foundation. 12 benefits of walking. Accessed 2023 June 20. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/physical-activity/walking/12-benefits-of-walking
  2.  Bai X, Soh K, Dev R, et al. Effect of brisk walking on health-related physical fitness balance and life satisfaction among the elderly: a systematic review. Front Public Health. 2022;31. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2021.829367/full
  3.  Harvard School of Public Health. Walking for exercise. The Nutrition Source. 2023;April. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/walking/
  4.  Cruz B, Ahmadi M, Lee I, et al. Prospective associations of daily step counts and intensity with cancer and cardiovascular disease and mortality and all-cause mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2022;182(11):1139-1148. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2796058
  5.  Cruz B, Ahmadi M, Naismith SL, et al. Association of daily step count and intensity with incident dementia in 78430 adults living in the UK. JAMA Neurology. 2022;79(10):1059-1063. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2795819
  6.  Sturm VE, Data S, Roy A, et al. Big smile, small self: awe walks promote prosocial positive emotions in older adults. Emotion.2022;22(5):1044-1058. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000876
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