There has been a lot of research into the benefits of walking on physical and mental health. A recent BBC Radio 4 podcast of “All in the Mind” reported on some new research from Iowa University that showed that the simple fact of walking improved the mood positively. Even if the research subjects did not want to walk their mood improved. Even if they were given ‘dreaded warnings’ that at the end of the experiment they would have to write a long and difficult analysis of the experience their mood improved over the subjects who just sat still.
There are various theories about why walking is so good for wellbeing. Exercise can release pleasure-giving endorphins in the brain, one can enjoy being in nature, or away from stress. But this research showed that simply ‘putting one foot in front of the other’ improved people’s mood. The reporter suggested that motion and emotion are intrinsically linked, quoting Darwin who said that humans are pre-programmed to feel good when active.
As my 70 years+ French neighbour always advises – the secret to ageing well is “BOUGEZ BOUGEZ!” – keep moving, however much you can.