Take a Walk for Your Mental Health

Physical activity and exercise are good for your mental health. Vigorous physical activity can help with self-confidence, a sense of well-being and better sexual health. Symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety have improved with physical activity and exercise, as shown in some studies. Benefits of exercise have been noted in treatment of addiction disorders as well.

Similarly, being in a natural environment has a positive effect on psychological health and well-being. Feeling connected to nature can improve a sense of satisfaction with oneself, with life and lead to better self-esteem. Connection to nature is often referred to as ‘Nature Relatedness’. Anxiety levels are lower when there is a higher degree of ‘Nature Relatedness’. Even a view of plants and trees from your window can have a positive effect on mental health.

Studies have shown that physical activity and being in nature are both independently good for your mental health. When physical activity happens in natural environments, these positive effects are impressive. Improvements in mood, attention and cognition have been documented with physical activity in a natural environment. People who walked in the presence of nature had greater benefits in mood and cognition than those who took walks in urban areas. Not only does activity in the presence of nature improve mood and cognitive ability, such activity can reduce negative outcomes like stress and anxiety.

Next time you plan to take a walk, try to go to a nearby park. And liven up your living spaces with some indoor plants.

Live Mentally Healthy,
Dr. Bhattacharya

Author
Dr. Sayanti Bhattacharya Sayanti Bhattacharya, MD, MS, is a board-certified adult psychiatrist at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. Dr. Bhattacharya lends a wealth of experience in the treatment of anxiety, depression, sleep issues, memory problems, trauma-related stress disorders, and attention deficit disorders. She is also experienced working with people who have challenges with interpersonal communication, social anxiety, low self-esteem, overwhelming negative thinking, and sleep problems. She works with patients via both telemedicine and in person.

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