Photographed by Ashley Batz.
The good news: It’s something you do already do. The bad news: You might need to do it a little more often.
Walking is the timeless, simple, do-anywhere workout that requires no equipment other than a good pair of sneakers. “Walking is a superfood,” biomechanist Katy Bowman, author of Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement, tells Reuters. “It’s a lot easier to get movement than it is to get exercise.”
And, a recent study finds that taking your step-count outdoors for a group nature walk can enhance your mental well-being, in addition to raising your heart rate. For the study, researchers looked at nearly 2,000 participants involved in the British Walking For Health program. They found that those who were seriously stressed — dealing with illness, loss of a job or loved one, divorce, etc. — reported improvements in their mood after the nature walks. To reap the emotional rewards, the researchers recommend short, but frequent walks a few times per week. They attribute the mood boost to a combination of the benefits provided by physical activity (hello endorphins), social interaction, and nature’s restorative effect.
Luckily, fall is the perfect time for outdoor walks, including hikes to see the changing foliage, or to go apple picking. Or, you know, navigating the city grid to grab a pumpkin-flavored anything.