Walking and exercise have benefits beyond the merely physical. Many people walk as much for mental well-being as for fitness

Walking can help relieve stress. 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.

Walking and other exercise leads to the release of the body’s natural happy drugs — endorphins. Walkers who walk at a brisk walking pace to raise their heart rate will notice this effect more than those who walk at a slower heart rate pace. But even at a slower pace, most people notice an improvement in mood.

Many physicians recommend adding regular walking and exercise as a natural treatment to relieve a bout of depression.

The cause of depression is related to brain chemistry. By getting your brain to release more of the happy chemicals — the endorphins — you achieve naturally what many prescription drugs and herbs try to do artificially.

Depression can be a serious and life-threatening disease, so consult your health care provider if your mood is leading to problems in your life or if you have suicidal thoughts. Use walking as a part of effective treatment for mood disorders, which may also include talk therapy and drugs.

Studies published in 2015 found that walking in a natural environment reduced rumination and anxiety.

Start with smaller distances, build up your endurance, and your small walks can turn into bigger hikes. Reaching the top of a mountain, can remove all stress and give you a full sense of accomplishment.

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