Effects of 10,000 Steps Per Day on Mental Health

Lack of exercise is associated not only with physical health problems, but also with risk of mental health problems. Increased physical activity (PA) has been recommended for the prevention of cardiovascular disease; however, little is known about the effect of walking on physical and mental health outcomes.

A study was conducted, which included 30 participants who had to accumulate 10,000 steps daily for 12 weeks. Results concluded that each individual showed significantly lower anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion, and total mood distress scores compared with measurements taken prior to the intervention. Similar to this, Stanford researchers also concluded that walking in nature yields measurable health benefits, with reduced risk of depression being one of their main findings.

The Mayo Clinic explains it best, as they state that “The links between depression, anxiety and exercise aren’t entirely clear — but physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and make you feel better.” The word “exercise” may make you think of running laps around the gym, however it includes a wide range of activities that boost your activity level to help you feel better.

Certainly running, lifting weights, and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can physical activity such as gardening, washing your car, walking around the block or engaging in other less intense activities. Any physical activity that gets you off the couch and moving can help improve your mood.

As you strive towards reaching your 10,000 steps every day, you will receive many psychological and emotional benefits. It can help you:

  • Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges – even small ones – can boost your self-confidence.
  • Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
  • Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by indulging in unhealthy habits, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.

The South Dakota Psychological Association provides many helpful resources related to this topic. Visit our website for more details!


Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. It is quite often associated with the saying “don’t let the future steal your present”. By learning and practicing how to be more present in the moment, the benefits to this mental lifestyle are endless. Studies have shown that those who adopt the mindset of living in the moment tend to be happier, calmer, more relaxed, and appreciative. It can also increase one’s ability to be in tune with their thoughts and emotions.

It is quite often said that depression lives in the past and anxiety lives in the future. Therefore, remaining in the present provides a sense of calmness and peace of mind. The excitement of awaiting something out of the ordinary or special is easily understood – whether it be bad or good – but by focusing so heavily on what isn’t currently happening, you miss out on all of the amazing things happening in front of you.

By being present in the moment, you obtain a higher level of satisfaction, allow yourself to have a better experience, and feel more fulfilled as the event has not come and gone as quickly. It is great to perceive time as a precious commodity. Don’t mentally rush through it or wish it away. Savor the moment, and start (or continue) doing the things you love and that fill you up. It’s when you fix your eyes on those slower moments of life that your appreciation and relaxation increases, opposed to anxiety or depression if your mind is focused elsewhere in time.

Read more about this article here! Also visit SDPA’s website for helpful resources related to this topic.