Motivation and emotion/Book/2018/Walking and emotion
How does walking affect emotion?
- 1 Overview
- 2 Walking and depression
- 3 Walking, emotion and environment
- 4 Walking and music effect on emotion
- 5 The relationship between walking and emotion
- 6 Walking with social support
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
- Focus questions
- What effect does walking have on our emotions?
- What factors should we consider when examining the relationship between walking and emotion?
Walking and depression
Walking and the Beck Depression Inventory
Depression is defined by Bröer and Besseling in 2017 as the emotion sadness with the durability of a mood. Cooney and colleagues in 2014 ran a meta-analysis on walking and depression from a very extensive data set comprising of 39 trails and totaling in 2,326 participants. Their study found that exercise could significantly predict a reduction in depression scores. The team found a Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) of -0.62 and confidence intervals being between -.81 and -.42. This was considered to be a moderate effect size (with .20 being small, .50 being moderate and .80 being a large effect). These statistics mean that those who exercised more experienced less depression because the BDI is in the negative direction. By reducing depression we are therefore reducing the chance that one will feel the emotion associated with sadness.
Mobility and depression
The benefits of walking extend to coping, self-esteem and health status. This was Bergland and colleague's hypothesis for their journal article in 2010. Although their study had a mean age for participants being 65.6 only 0.7 percent were not able to walk and 80.8 percent could walk at least one kilo-meter without pause. The results for their study are discussed and they found that participants who report higher self-report health had higher outdoor walking ability. While those participants who had a poor self-reported mobility had higher levels of depression.
The relationship between walking and emotion in Parkinson's disease
What is the relationship between walking ability, emotion and cognitive impairment in people with Parkinson's disease. This was the research question posed by Avanzino and colleagues in a recent 2018 article. The team found growing evidence that emotional disturbances related to affect disorders such as anxiety and depression contributed to walking disorders among people with Parkinson's disease. The team also found that cognitive impairment could predict whether participants had a walking disorder. In consequence the team proposed that we need to consider emotional and cognitive factors when examining the performance of walking among people with Parkinson's disease.
Yearlong walking improves depression in older adults
Aoki and colleagues in 2017 conducted a year long experiment to see if they could increase walking in participants and whether that improved their mental health. 180 participants were divided between two groups, one being an exercise group and the second being a non exercise group with a mean age of 72.2. The results showed that participants in the exercise group had a significant improvement in CES-D (The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale) scores p < .001 when compared to the baseline values. The average steps counted per day of walking for the exercise group significantly increased, compared to the baseline values. So in conclusion Aoki and colleagues in 2017 suggest that walking can be used in order to treat depression and that exercise can be increased with the right interventions. In the exercise and mood book chapter for 2014, it was reported by Berger and Motl in 2000 that exercise could also regulate short-term mood by reducing feelings of anger, stress and depression. Anger is also described as an emotion, so sadness is not the only emotion that improves with exercise.
Walking to treat other disorders: an Australian study
In 2015 Rosenbaum and colleagues reflect on how physical activity has been used increasingly to treat mental disorders. The team found that physical activity doesn't just treat depression but can also be used to treat disorders like schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders and substance abuse. Rosenbaum and colleagues concluded that physical activity is effective to usual care while acknowledging the need for psychiatrists, psychologists, physiologists, physiotherapists and other requirements that the patient may need. Overall however the team agreed that there must be investments in aiming to increase physical activity for mental health patients, ensuring that not only mental benefits are reaching the patient but the physical too. In the exercise and emotion book chapter for 2013, it was also reported by Fox and colleagues in 2006 that exercise can prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Walking, emotion and environment
Walking in the prospect heights of Brooklyn
There is empirical evidence to support walking in relieving depression. What about the environment in which people walk, does that have an impact on the psyche? There is a study that suggests it does. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani in 2005 looked at walking, emotion and dwelling in the prospect heights of Brooklyn.  The researcher discovered that when locals walk among their local environments there are deep emotional connections that foster positive relationships between not only the environment where they walk but among themselves too. Even to an outsider visiting the prospect heights, the researcher described the walk through the local playground and supermarket as having a warm positive energy even though this place was considered as no utopia. In the green exercise and emotion book chapter for 2013 it included walking in an urban park as green exercise because you are exposed to nature.
Emotions of young, walking adults
In another study Seto and colleagues in 2016 looked at the influence of routine, physical activity, emotion and food environment. The study included 12 participants and each one required a smartphone for recording. The team reported that all participants regardless of being underweight (17%), overweight (17%) or normal weight (66%) believed that exercise is important in their lives. Furthermore the team found that the participants reported moderate levels of happiness which is defined as positive emotions ranging from contentment to extreme joy. While the participants had on average low levels of stress, tiredness and sadness. These higher levels of happiness and lower levels of sadness could be due to the amount of walking each participant did in the 2 week program. Seto and colleagues in 2016 found that on average each participant had 33 stay points with 6 being the minimum. While on average each participant came in proximity with 1158 food establishments over the 2 weeks of tracking. This is a substantial statistic and its important because it reflects the participants young age group's (mean age 24.6) walking patterns and offers reasons for the low levels of negative emotion.
Environment plays a role in walking patterns
Patterson and colleagues in 2014 investigated the relationship between the environment and its effect on walking. Barriers that prevent people from experiencing positive emotion when they walk may come from abnormal walking patterns. The conditions presented to participants included a normal path, busy hallway, rough ground, blind folded and on a hill. The technology used to monitor walking patterns was quite advanced with sensors on the chest and shins, with a camera on the chest too. All five conditions proved to be significant in predicting walking patterns. The conclusion therefore being that the environment in which we walk effects the way we walk and thereby how pleasant the walk will be. This has important implications as abnormal walking may be the result of the environment rather than internal changes. Bergland and colleagues in 2010 investigated the relationship between mobility and depression. One consideration to make for their study in particular would therefore be to also assess the environment in which a participant is walking, to see if it's having an impact on mobility.
Walking and music effect on emotion
The joy of walking faster with music
An interesting piece of literature to study is how music affects our performance in walking. Leow and colleauges in 2015 investigated the relationship between music and walking performance, with a particular interest in the familiarity of music and if it brought the participants joy. Two key findings to highlight from this study are firstly that being familiar with the beat structure of the music predicts a more synchronized and faster walk (or gait). The second finding is that being familiar with the music also predicts enjoyment which if combined with the first finding means that you walk faster with music that you enjoy. Leow and colleagues also have evidence for this in their explanation of how familiar music can release the neurotransmitter dopamine into the system which in turn makes one move faster.
Less physical exertion with music
A similar finding was also discussed by Silva and colleagues in the same year of 2015. They found that the 12 obese participants taking part in the study to walk for 30 minutes experienced less perceived exertion and more positive affect when walking with music as apposed to no music. In this study the results showed a peculiar finding however, the %HRmax-VT (percent of maximum heart rate and ventricular tachycardia) was the same for those who listened to music and those who did not. So even though the participants listening to music were under the same physical pressure as the participants not listening to music, the one's listening to music experienced less perceived pressure. It was noted by Silva and colleagues in 2015 that the participants listening to music also had more positive affect. This is similar to Leow and colleagues 2015 study because they suggest that music and physical activity produces joy.
Music can change velocity and motivation
Participants in Buhmann and colleagues 2016 study were first instructed to walk on an indoor track in silence and then with tempo-matched music. The results were able to find music that has an activating effect, increasing velocity and motivation and music that has a relaxing effect, decreasing velocity and motivation. The team also discuss how there is emerging evidence that self-paced walking produces more positive affect over prescribed intensity training. The team conclude with these findings that applying this knowledge can improve emotion, prevent injuries, guide walking rehabilitation and improving performance in sports activities.
The relationship between walking and emotion
A hint to the positive affect of walking
What effect does walking have on emotion and in particular is the effect positive or just neutral. Ekkekakis and colleagues in 2008 explored the relationship between these variables. The team hypothesized that the effect would be neutral mainly because the evidence at this time was scarce in favour for a positive affect. Ekkekakis and colleagues main point was that walking isn't intense and long enough to produce a positive affect. Although this was the hypothesis, the results painted a different picture. The team found that even short, self-paced walking left participants feeling more energized.
Experiment finds a positive affect on emotion
Could this mean feelings of happiness from the participants or just a revitalized feeling in the body. A recent study by Miller and Krizan in 2016 investigated the relationship between walking and positive affect with an emphasis on emotion. The team first defined a high positive affect as experiencing feelings of positive engagement with the environment accompanied with emotions like excitement, joy and enthusiasm. Miller and Krizan in 2016 included 232 undergraduate students in their study on walking and positive affect. Participants were randomly assigned to either a sitting condition or a walking condition. The team had to use some mild deception to make participants think that they were responding to how particular environments made them feel. One group was assigned to walk a tour around the campus while the other group was assigned to sit in a computer lab to go on a virtual tour (showing pictures of the campus). Both experiments lasted 12 minutes and participants were required to remain silent throughout the experiment. Finally students were asked questions about their tour experience and a PANAS (positive and negative affect schedule) was conducted. The results showed that the positive affect associated with the positive emotions, excitement, joy and enthusiasm were significantly higher for those in the walking condition p < .0001.
Positive emotion can predict walking frequency among participants with knee osteoarthritis
White and colleagues conducted an interesting study in 2012 that analyzed the relationship between a positive attitude and walking with knee osteoarthritis. The results showed that participants with positive emotions walked a similar number of steps per day while those with depressive symptoms walked less. Therefore those participants high in positive affect were associated with more daily walking among adults with knee osteoarthritis. The team concluded therefore that positive emotions represent a crucial psychological factor to consider for promoting walking among those with painful knee osteoarthritis.
Contact with neighbors reinforces walking
Van Cauwenberg and colleagues in 2014 introduce the idea of neighborhood social environment and walking for the transportation of older adults. They first acknowledge the physical, social and mental health benefits of regular exercise and state that this knowledge is well-established. The team found a positive relationship between participants contact with neighbours and daily walking. Furthermore the statistic representing this was that participants were 98% more likely to walk if the frequency of contact with neighbours was high rather then if it was not. The team concluded that there are three dimensions to consider when investigating the relationship between social environment and walking. They are, the effect of interpersonal relationships, place attachment and formal community engagement.
Proper walks and dispersed walking
Harries and Rettie in a 2016 article thought it was important to distinguish between the different ways to measure walking and types of walking in general. The team warn people of the limitations of digital feedback and the exercise value of walking as these measurements for walking only provide a partial view. The team argues that in order to understand why people walk and therefore implement strategies to increase and maintain walking, one needs to view walking as a social practice. Consequently we must understand and distinguish between 'proper walks' and 'dispersed walking'. Harries and Rettie defined 'proper walks' as walks that have a specific goal (hikes). While 'dispersed walking' is far more complex because it refers to the type of walking you do in the house, at the supermarket, with friends and family etc. The team argue that this is the reason why walking is less salient as running for example, because people often do it without realizing they are. Harries and Rettie reported one participant Perter, who said that when walking with friends, the focus is on having a laugh The Fun Theory 1 - Piano Staircase Initiative: Volkswagen and you often forget that you are walking.
One can fall into a deep sleep after feeling the emotion of contentment resulting from a satisfying days work. Richards and colleagues in 2011 knew this and so they devised a study that aimed to increase participants sleep in a nursing home. There influence included the implementation of strength training, walking and social activity. The team labeled strength training and walking as E and social activity as SA. The results proved to be significant with the ESA group being higher in sleep time than the control group (adjusted means 364.2 minutes vs 328.9 minutes).
When evaluating the effect that walking has on our emotions, there are a few key findings that need to be highlighted. Firstly, that depression is defined as the emotion sadness with the durability of a mood. With the right interventions Aoki and colleagues found that walking can significantly improve depression. In Seto and colleagues’ study, the youthful participants (mean age 24.6) who believed that exercise was important part of their lives reported higher levels of happiness (emotions ranging from contentment to extreme joy) and lower levels of stress, tiredness and sadness. Music was also found to not only predict walking performance but joy too. In Leow and colleagues’ study the team found that participants listening to familiar music improved walking speed and enjoyment. Miller and Krizan inventory for a positive affect in walking included the emotions excitement, joy and enthusiasm. These emotions were found in their study to increase when compared to the control group. Finally Harries and Rettie theorized that people can engage in ‘dispersed’ walking where people don’t even realize they are because the social support, making walking more enjoyable and less physically exerting. In conclusion this evidence suggests that not only can walking reduce negative emotions like anger and sadness and it can also facilitate positive emotions like excitement and joy.
- emotion (Wikipedia)
- Emotion (Wikiversity)
- exercise and emotion (Book chapter, 2013)
- green exercise and emotion (Book chapter, 2013)
- exercise and mood (Book chapter, 2014)
- Yoga and mood disorders (Book chapter, 2018)
- The Fun Theory 1 - Piano Staircase Initiative: Volkswagen (Walking and music enjoyment)