There’s no doubt that you’ve heard there are numerous benefits of walking. From healthy weight management to better heart health and even reduced risk of diabetes, there’s clear evidence that walking does a lot for your body.
But how does taking a simple walk provide all of these incredible health benefits? Well, along with providing these other incredible benefits, walking is also a great way to relieve stress.
Taking a daily walk not only calms the psychological stress we’re all too familiar with but also helps your body better many the physiological effects of stress. And that’s one of the major ways walking supports your overall health—both mentally and physically.
Intrigued? Keep reading to learn all about how walking for stress relief works—and discover which types of walking provide the most benefits.
3 Tips to Get the Stress-Relieving Benefits of Walking
Believe it or not, many of the benefits of walking stem from its effect on your state of stress. But how does walking for stress relief work? Well, it requires a few specific elements.
Here are three tips for walking for stress relief.
1. Pick a natural setting.
When walking for stress relief, pay special attention to your setting. While walking on your treadmill is great to get your heart pumping, it won’t necessarily provide the stress-relieving benefits you’re looking for.
According to a 2015 study, people who walked through a “green space,” meaning a natural setting (such as park or nature trail), they experienced lower frustration, engagement, and arousal. Meanwhile, they also experienced higher states of meditation. 
And since meditation has been shown to be especially effective at releaving stress, this is a great benefit!
Additionally, a 2012 study revealed that having little to no green space in your life can make you more stressed. According to the researchers, if green space makes up less than 30 percent of your surroundings, you’re more likely to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. 
So, the next time you’re feeling a bit stressed, tap into the benefits of walking and being in a natural setting by talking a walk outside in nature. You’re almost guaranteed to emerge feeling lighter and calmer.
2. Go for a (slightly) longer walk.
Sometimes life gets busy and you’re lucky to sneak in 10 minutes of walking. Trust me, I get it. But if you’re looking to tap into the stress-relieving benefits of walking, you’re going to want to make a little more time.
According to a 2008 study, walking for just 20 minutes each day can reduce symptoms of fatigue by 65 percent and increase energy by 20 percent! 
But how does this relate to stress? Well, chronic stress often results in adrenal fatigue. And the main symptoms of adrenal fatigue are fatigue and feeling overwhelmed.
So, think about it this way: If you could help protect your health by naturally supporting your body’s ability to manage stress and also boost your energy in just 20 minutes a day, could you find the time to make that happen? I bet the answer is a resounding YES!
3. Grab a companion.
When it comes to the stress-relieving benefits of walking, one key element is to grab a companion. Why? Well, having someone by your side (whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a pet) not only provides its own stress-relieving benefits, but it also increases your odds of sticking with your walking routine!
First, researchers have found that friendships can help improve your health by providing a buffer to stressful situations, which have been shown to increase your risk of disease and other health concerns. 
Specifically, giving and receiving social support has been shown to support healthy blood pressure levels and even lower inflammation! 
Additionally, a 2016 study revealed that those who exercise with others rated themselves healthier than those who exercised alone.  And another study showed that people who exercise with others have long-term adherence rates of almost 70 percent! 
But what if you can’t find someone to bring along for your walk? Consider grabbing your pet, if you have one. Studies have shown that having a pet close by relieves stress and lowers cortisol in both adults and children. [8, 9]
So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, grab a friend, family member, or coworker and go for a stroll to help relieve some of that anxiety and tension. You can return with a new outlook—and a little extra energy, too!
Well, there you have it—my top three tips for tapping into the stress-relieving benefits of walking. It’s worth nothing that even if you can’t incorporate all of these tips, taking a quick stroll will still help you to refocus and return feeling calmer.
But don’t worry … if walking isn’t really your thing, I have some other fun ways you can kick stress to the curb as well! The key is to find what works for you and just go with it!
- There are many benefits of walking, such as supporting heart health and weight management, but its ability relieve stress may very well top the list.
- In order to relieve stress, studies have shown that incorporating certain walking practices help. Walking in nature, taking a stroll for at least 20 minutes, and taking along a companion have all proven especially helpful in relieving stress.
- If walking isn’t your preferred activity, though, there are many other fun ways to help reduce stress, such as dancing, singing, and even watching a funny movie!