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Autumn Walks: Why It's Great for Our Mental Health

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

Autumn is a wonderful season to step out of the house and enjoy walks. The air feels fresh and crisp, the weather is pleasant, and the brown and orange colours will make for a picturesque view.

Walking has been associated with a myriad of benefits. Here are the top 5 science-backed reasons why we can take a few minutes out of our busy schedule and go for a leisurely stroll in nature this autumn:

1. Walking boosts energy levels and causes bilateral stimulation.

Walking is the most popular and simple form of exercise. It’s a form of cardiovascular activity that increases our heart rate and raises blood flow throughout the body.

Our body uses energy more efficiently when we walk as mitochondria production increases. The mitochondria in our blood generate the fuel needed to function. The increased mitochondria production also means that we burn more calories.

2. Walking improves our mental health

A walk-in nature promotes calmness and restoration. Research has found that walking in a rural or urban setting creates a positive change in mood and mindset, especially if we are experiencing low mood; Just one hour of walking can reduce stress and negative emotions. Our body also releases endorphins when we engage in physical activity, these endorphins are feel-good hormones that help us cope with pain and stress.

3. Walking enhances cognitive function

Physical activity is the closest thing we have to an anti-ageing pill. Evidence shows that different types of physical activities, including walking, significantly improve cognitive function and reduce cognitive decline in old age. It can improve our memory, planning, and thinking skills among others. So, walking doesn’t just make us fit physically, it keeps us sharp too.

4. Walking can lead to better quality sleep

Those steps we take during the day can improve the quality of sleep we get during the night. Research has found that the more people walked, the higher they rated their sleep quality. When we’re physically tired and our mind is relaxed, our body can transition to sleep much more easily.

5. Walking can help us socialise

Although walking in solitude can be beneficial, it doesn’t have to be a solo activity. We can connect with a friend or a family member and go for stroll in the park, or even a day trek. The National Trust website provides many walking and trekking resources for the whole country. Social relationships are crucial for good health - both mental and physical. Going on walks with a friend or in a group can strengthen social ties, and turn walking into a more fun activity, thereby increasing our motivation to go out.

While the temptation to snuggle up inside a blanket and drink hot chocolate can be strong, an autumn walk might just be what we need. The benefits are plenty and taking a stroll through the neighbourhood decked out in stunning autumn colours can be a refreshing and rejuvenating experience.

So, let's put on our coats and boots and head out for a pleasant walk in the park.

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