It's not breaking news that walking is good for you, but few studies have really examined the day-to-day and even hour-by-hour changes in people’s moods - until now.
A new study has found that even gentle lunchtime strolls can immediately brighten your mood and your ability to handle stress at work.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham recruited office workers at the university, telling them that they would need to be available to walk for 30 minutes during their usual lunch hour three times a week. In the end they found 56 volunteers.
Dr. Thogersen-Ntoumani and her colleagues randomly divided the volunteers into two groups, one of which was to begin a simple, 10-week walking program right away, while the other group would wait and start their walking program 10 weeks later, serving as a control group.
The scientists helped their volunteers set up an app on their phones with a questionnaire about their emotions designed to measure the volunteers’ feelings, stress, tension, enthusiasm, etc.
Each workday morning and afternoon (before and after the walks) during the first 10 weeks, the volunteers in both groups answered questions on their phones about their moods at that particular moment.
After 10 weeks, the second group began their walking program. The first group was allowed to continue walking or not as they chose. (Many did keep up their lunchtime walks.)
Then the scientists compared all of the responses, and found great results. On the afternoons after a lunchtime stroll, walkers said they felt considerably more enthusiastic, less tense, and generally more relaxed and able to cope than on afternoons when they hadn’t walked.
Unfortunately, after the study ended, many of the volunteers began to stop their afternoon walks due to work commitments. They were expected by management to work through lunch, which makes us wonder when their management might wish to acquaint themselves with the latest science.