We’ve all experienced this - in a rut, feeling unmotivated… head out for a long walk and you feel... better. For those hiking enthusiasts out there we all know a vigorous hike can be a huge mood booster, leaving us excited about life again.
Researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria set out to validate this. The study, published this past May in PLUS ONE. found that a walk (even on a treadmill indoors) left people feeling happier than had they just been sitting at their computer.
The researchers recruited 40 healthy men and women from Innsbruck, monitored them with heart rate meters and sent them on a vigorous hike in the Swiss Alps. The next day the same 40 people walked on a treadmill in the gym. On the third day the 40 subjects were asked to sit in the communal lounge at the University of Innsbruck, read magazines and surf around on computers, but made sure to keep sitting (sound comfortable?)
In all three cases, the men and women in the study filled out detailed questionnaires assessing their mood and anxiety levels.
The results were not surprising but impressive. Everyone exercised more vigorously on the outdoor hike in the Alps than on the treadmill, BUT they all reported that the outdoor hike FELT LESS strenuous than the treadmill even though it was not.
Everyone reported feeling happier, generally better and more invigorated on the outdoor hike than on the treadmill, again no surprise, who wouldn’t’ feel better being outdoors in the Swiss Alps. BUT, everyone felt much happier and more relaxed walking either outdoors or on a treadmill than they felt sitting for three hours.
To quote Martin Niedermeier Professor of Sport Science at University of Innsbruck who led the study, “Walking is more pleasurable than sitting.”
So if you’re in a chair right now, GET UP and go for a walk, or buy a treadmill desk. If you’re standing then consider an under desk treadmill to go with your stand up desk.
Whatever you do, GET UP and MOVE, you’ll feel better physically AND emotionally.
I walked 1.6 miles and took 3,425 steps writing this article.