Study Finds Walking Style Affects Mood

A woman happily walks through a parkIf you’ve ever gotten stuck walking behind someone whose gait was painfully slow, you might have found yourself frustrated and moody, perhaps even changing your own walking style to match your mood. According to a new study, these small changes in walking style can add up to change in mood and outlook, potentially even making it easier to remember negative information.

Does Walking Speed Change Mood?

The study was small, relying on 39 undergraduate students who walked on a treadmill. Researchers instructed participants to walk in a depressed style, with their shoulders slumped and their heads down, or to adopt a happier gait, with their heads held high and shoulders back. As participants walked, researchers viewed a screen that gauged the walkers’ walking style as either happy or depressed. They used this biofeedback to encourage participants to adopt a specific gait. Researchers showed the walkers words associated with both positive and negative emotions.

After they walked, researchers asked participants to write down as many words as they could remember viewing during their walk. Walkers who adopted a depressed style of walking were able to remember more words associated with depressed emotions. The study’s authors argue that the “depressed” style of walking made it easier for participants to remember words connoting unhappiness. They point out that we constantly work to gain information about ourselves, our surroundings, and others by exploring cues from body language, so it makes sense that a person’s body language could affect his or her emotions. Previous research has shown that people with clinical depression are more likely to remember negative life events, especially those that make them feel bad about themselves.

A number of studies have shown that regular exercise, including walking, can help reduce the severity of depression and other mental health difficulties. If walking style matters, though, it’s not just regular exercise that matters, but also how you carry your body when you exercise.

References:

Change your walking style, change your mood. (2014, October 15). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141015143259.htm

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  • Ashlyn

    Ashlyn

    November 6th, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Sometimes that feeling of success or failure really does come through with the way that you carry yourself.
    If you carry yourself in a manner that makes you seem defeated then of course this is how you are going to feel!
    Even when I feel like I am having a terrible workout I always try to keep my shoulders up and my head high because I know that eventually this is how I am going to feel about the workout.
    We all have off days, but that doesn’t mean that we always have to carry that on the outside. As a matter of fact with just a few little tweaks, your bad day could turn triumphant.

  • Clarke

    Clarke

    November 7th, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    well I am the person who likes to set the tone and the speed of how I walk and when I think that there are people going too slow and getting in my way that really does bug me quite a bit

  • Frank

    Frank

    November 7th, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    There is something about the way that someone walks that causes you to perceive them in a certain way, you know? That suture or their speed (or lack thereof!) tells you something about them that you may not know otherwise. Quite the curious thing

  • Sarah teague

    Sarah teague

    November 10th, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    It’s all in the speed for me. I know that I am a lot more relaxed when I am just strolling along then I ever am when I am booking it and trying to get a good workout in. When I am moving faster then my whole attitude changes.

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