The psychological benefits of walking

Exercise has always been associated with muscle toning, calorie burning, and disease prevention, but the truth is, its positive effects ripple even on our psychological side.

In fact, most of the benefits of moving and stretching muscles are related not only to how we feel, but also how we think. And, strange as it sounds, this is noticeable even in exercise modalities as simple as the daily walking routine.

Some researchers believe that walking can be a good resource to help us think more creatively. Let’s see why this conclusion was drawn.

Walk to clear the mind

There are people who, when they try to concentrate, instead of standing still in the style of the Thinker sculpture they start to walk from side to side, even though they are in a relatively small room.

This fact can be interpreted as a clue to one of the effects of walking: it allows us to think more clearly. This is something that may be surprising, as it would be easy to imagine the opposite effect, that is, to believe that thinking and walking at the same time costs more when it comes to two tasks. that we have to deal with separately. However, this does not happen, as the act of walking acts as a kind of meditation. This is so for several reasons.

The vicious circle that catches our attention

The first reason is that walking is used to release tension. Besides being useful for exercising many of the largest muscle groups in the human body, walking is an easy way to reduce stress levels, which in itself is positive because prolonged periods of exposure to stress have a negative effect on our immune system. But there is also another benefit related to the way in which walking allows us to manage our attention. Specifically, this activity makes us constantly stop thinking about things that produce anxiety.

Many times when there is something in our daily life that causes us some anxiety or sadness, something happens in us which in psychology is known as brooding, that is, a tendency to carry constantly our thoughts towards the source of this discomfort, which sometimes puts us in a vicious cycle and we feel more and more bad. Rumination is a kind of train track that constantly guides our thoughts to what causes us discomfort, which is why it feeds on routine.

The more we are exposed to stimuli that we have already experienced before, the more likely it is that our attention is directed to those stressful ideas or memories, because we will have become accustomed to associating everything we do with the negative feelings associated with the routine.

Break the preestablished paths

Walking is an experience that allows us to “detach” our attention from these pathways through which our thoughts usually pass because, in addition to reducing stress through light physical exercise, it makes our thinking more spontaneous and improvised by exposing us to changes, new environments. And with the perception of new situations comes the ability to think more creatively.

Moreover, how to walk is a very simple task which is usually not difficult to perform, our attention does not need to be very focused on this sequence of movements.

Walking is relevant enough to make us forget the thought circuits we are used to, but at the same time, it is simple enough to let our attention spontaneously find distractions.

The process, summarized in its key points, is as follows:

  • The sedentary lifestyle and monotony make our thinking always encounter the same stimuli and the same references, which always lead us to the same ideas and feelings, trapped in a vicious circle.
  • Moderate exercise associated with walking makes us feel better, Which makes it less likely that our attention is always focused on our concerns, because it changes the way we see the world.
  • In turn, the world we look at literally changes too, Because we always keep moving. As a result, we thought spontaneously and differently, found relationships between ideas and sensations that we hadn’t thought of before, and began to create experiences that were closely related to this creative impulse.

A creative journey through the trees

We have already seen that walking has psychological benefits that are easy to find in almost all contexts, but there is one type of environment that combines very well with this activity: natural environments with vegetation.

The quality of the air in these spaces, the charm of this type of space and the absence of elements that refer to our routine make natural spaces a very good place to disconnect from everything and put our creativity to work and our imaginative spontaneity.

As in a place of this nature, it is difficult for the human body to find discomfort from the noise and pollution of cities, it is much easier for the stress level to drop significantly, allowing the brain to see with the hands. the thought and richness of stimuli that come from the environment. Nature is almost always the best canvas.

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