Why You Should Engage Your Mind When You’re On The Move

Concentrating on your breathing during your walk will work wonders for your mental health.

Taking a leisurely evening stroll and enjoying your surroundings after a long day at work sounds like an inviting prospect, doesn’t it? But what if we told you that besides the health benefits of a walk, it can also make you mentally strong? All you have to do is concentrate on your breathing!

A recent study suggests that the simple act of being mindful of your breathing and surroundings may help boost your wellbeing.

What Does The Study Say?

Published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise in July 2018, the study aimed to find a simple way for people to boost their wellbeing throughout the day. “It can be difficult to ask people to spend a lot of time doing moderate or vigorous activity by going to the gym or out for a run, especially if they feel stressed,” said Chih-Hsiang "Jason" Yang, lead author of the study, in a press release. “But if they don't need to change their everyday behavior and can instead try to change their state of mind by becoming more mindful, they can probably see this beneficial effect. You don’t need to exert a lot of extra effort in order to improve your wellbeing by being more mindful while you’re moving around,” he went on to say.

The researchers recruited 158 university students for the study. For two weeks, they were randomly prompted eight times a day to answer questions about their current activity and states of mind by a special mobile phone app called Paco. The prompts included questions about where the participant was, if they were moving and if they were stressed or anxious, as well as questions designed to assess mindfulness.

The Results

Upon analysing the data provided by the students, the researchers found that the more mindful or active participants were during a moment, the lesser were their levels of stress and anxiety. “Being more active in a given moment is already going to reduce negative effect but by also being more mindful than usual at the same time, you can see this amplified effect,” explained Yang. Their findings were backed up by a follow-up study Yang completed on older adults, who also reported lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression in moments of outdoor mindfulness.

Low intensity workouts have started to be considered as a viable approach in the world of fitness as well, with the health benefits of LIIT more and more talked about. It’s definitely welcome news for those who aren’t big fans of intense forms of exercise. You can tone down the intensity of your workout but that’s no reason to compromise on your wellbeing!

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