LIFESTYLE

Walk Like You're Happy And You're More Likely To Be Happy, Says Study

22/10/2014 12:28 BST | Updated 22/10/2014 12:59 BST

Can the way you walk influence your happiness? According to this new study, it can.

Research published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry has found that altering the way you walk can affect happiness levels.

walking happy

The experiment was prompted by previous studies which show that physical exercises, including walking, can influence depression.

Researchers asked 39 undergraduates to change their walking style to reflect either the characteristics of a depressed person or a particularly upbeat and happy person - we're thinking energetic arm movements and big grins.

The walking speed of all those taking part remained the same throughout the experiment.

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While they walked, the participants were then asked to remember a selection of emotive words - both positive and negative - which were being read out to them.

Unsurprisingly, when the subjects were asked to recall these words afterwards, they found that those who adopted a 'depressed walking style' retained more negative words than the happy walkers.

Their findings suggest that walking does in fact affect the way in which we process and retain information.

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“It is not surprising that our mood, the way we feel, affects how we walk, but we want to see whether the way we move also affects how we feel,” explained Nikolaus Troje, co-author of the study and professor at Queen’s University in Canada.

The researchers even believe that adapting gait (or walking style) could be used as a type of treatment for depression.

Troje concluded: “If you can break that self-perpetuating cycle, you might have a strong therapeutic tool to work with depressive patients.”