Upbeat Walking Style Might Lift Your Mood

Nov/05/2014

The way you walk can affect your mood, according to a new study.

Previous research has shown that depressed people move differently from happy people, according to study co-author Nikolaus Troje, a senior fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

"It is not surprising that our mood, the way we feel, affects how we walk, but we want to see whether the way we move also affects how we feel," he said in an institute news release.

For this study, participants were shown a list of positive and negative words -- words like "pretty" and "afraid." They were then asked to walk on a treadmill in either a depressed style -- with their shoulders rolled forward and limited arm movement -- or in a bouncier, happier way.

After they got off the treadmill, the volunteers were asked to recall the words they were shown before they began walking. Those who walked in a depressed way remembered many more negative words than those who walked in a happy way.

The study, published online, will appear in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. While researchers found a link between gait and mood, the study did not prove cause and effect.

Troje said this study increases understanding of how mood can affect memory. Depressed people are much more likely to remember negative events rather than positive ones, which can make them feel even worse, he said.

"If you can break that self-perpetuating cycle, you might have a strong therapeutic tool to [use] with depressive patients," he said.

More information
Mental Health America offers tips for living your life well.

 

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