A mood can affect the way you walk. If you are sad your shoulders tend to slump but if you are happy there is more of a bounce to your step. What researchers have studied is that if this can work in the opposite way. So, by changing the way you walk can you change your mood?

“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,” says Nikolaus Troje of Queen’s University and co-author on the paper.

According to the study in the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, researchers have found that a persons’ mood can be changed by the way they walk. They took subjects and showed them a list of positive and negative words and then asked them to walk on a treadmill while they measured their gait and posture. As they walked they were shown a screen that had a gauge and it moved either left or right depending on whether their walking style was more depressed or happier. However the subjects did not know what the gauge measured. The researchers then instructed some to try move the gauge left whilst others right.

“They would learn very quickly to walk the way we wanted them to walk,” Troje says.

After the subjects walked on the treadmill and moved the gauge left or right they were then told to write down as many words as they remembered from the positive and negative word list. What the study found is that those that had been walking in a depressed style remembered many more negative words. This kind of recall can suggest that by walking in a depressed style it created a more depressed mood.

This study also builds on the understandings around how moods can affect memory. For example clinically depressed patients are known to remember many more negative events especially about themselves rather than positive ones.

So if you feel like your mood is at a low instead of slumping your shoulders and shuffling your feet, rather walk with a bounce in your step, with your head held high and your mood will change around. So get out and start walking now! Besides being able to change your mood you there’re many benefits from walking like getting your creativity flowing.

Can’t get out for a walk and your mood needs a lift? You can beat your bad mood by adding a little Indian spice in a meal to help improve your mood.