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10 Ways to Walk Away Stress

Part 3: Walking for Your Mind and Spirit

By

Updated June 09, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Three walkers
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Walking can help relieve stress. A 1999 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed that university students who walked and did other easy to moderate exercise regularly had lower stress levels than couch potatoes or those who exercised strenuously.

Walking gives you time to think, as well as time to get away from stressors. Getting out of the stressful environment, breathing the air, and feeling your body move is natural stress-relief. Other ways walking can relieve stress:

1. Take a Break: Put physical and mental distance between you and the stress-causing environment. Get up and take a 15 minute walking break.

2. Loosen Up: Many people carry stress by tensing their muscles. By getting into your correct walking posture and form, you un-knot those muscles and put them to work. Learn more about how to walk. For further relaxation of your shoulder and neck, try the nordic walking technique with fitness walking poles.

3. Get Out of Your Head: Take a break from your internal worries. Observe the environment around you; enjoy the trees, flowers, birds, gardens, sky, or window shop strolling past storefronts or in the mall.

4. Reconnect with Your Physical Body: Think about from head to toe how your body is working to carry you along. You may want to practice breathing techniques, and work on your walking form. Feel the sun, breeze, mist or rain on your skin.

5. Burn Calories from Stress-Eating: Many of us turn to comfort food or high-calorie convenience food when under stress. Walking is a good way to burn calories without having to change into workout gear. Get up and get moving. Walking Calorie Calculator

6. Time to Think: "“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking,” said philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Take a walk and the blood flow to your brain is increased. It gives you time to consider different aspects of your problems away from the distractions of your office or home. Creative ideas and solutions may flow more easily.

7. Talk and Laugh: Choose a fun walking companion who can distract you from the things causing your stress. Let them entertain you and bring out your happy side. Play on the playgrounds you might pass by. Be silly. Have fun.

8. Vent: Choose a walking companion who is willing to listen to what is causing your stress and give you emotional support and advice. If you can find a person who is skilled in problem-solving and counseling, this can be productive.

9. Widen Your Vision: Stress can give you tunnel vision, narrowing your world view to the immediate problem. Take a walk and observe what is going on around you. What are other people doing? Is a new neighbor moving in? Are co-workers preparing a party? What are they building across the street? Where does this new walking path go? See that there is more to life than your problems.

10. Lower Your Blood Pressure: Stress can be a factor in high blood pressure. Studies have shows that walking can lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart health risk.

Cautions: If you are a natural worrier, you face the risk of turning even your stress-relieving walk into its own set of worries. 10 things walkers worry about.

Next Page >> Spiritual Walking

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