Fitness

Boost your mood

Fix your funk by walking into a more positive state of mind

Chatelaine

Mental-health experts agree: A regular exercise routine is a great way to brighten up your day. Working out helps you feel happier, says Susan Biali, a Vancouver physician and professional flamenco dancer who helped resolve her depression through dance. And, she adds, its effects are immediate: Research shows that exercise almost instantly creates a more positive state of mind — which then lasts for about 12 hours.

Here are four steps to beating the blues by walking:

Get intense
Research suggests that walking briskly for 30 minutes, three to five days per week, significantly improves depression symptoms. And higher-intensity workouts appear to be more effective than lower-intensity training. Start with a gentle approach, then gradually make it more challenging by going a little further or faster each week.

Head outside
Exercising in the fresh air and sunshine will lift your spirits more than trudging on the treadmill in your basement. Choose pleasant outdoor surroundings, and focus on the beauty around you to give your mind a rest.

Stick with it
Keep track on a calendar so you can follow your progress and stay inspired. If you’re bored with walking, switch it up by alternating with days of cycling, swimming or yoga or dance classes to motivate you.

Enjoy the side-effects
Need some more motivation? Remind yourself that practising a regular exercise routine will help more than just your mood: It helps you maintain or lose weight, meet new people, feel more relaxed and sleep more soundly.