The Way You Walk Can Change Your Mood

Researchers find a bouncier gait can affect happiness
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2014 8:22 AM CST
The Way You Walk Can Change Your Mood
A jogger runs in front of the sun near the end of a partial solar eclipse at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Sarah Phipps)

Being happy may very well put a little bounce in our step, but new research suggests that if we purposefully walk this way we may be able to actually elevate our mood. Reporting in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, researchers say they enlisted a group of volunteers to walk on a treadmill while watching a gauge move to the left or right. They didn't know that if their stance suggested a depressed mood (such as slouched shoulders) the gauge drifted to the left, while if it suggested an elevated mood (such as a slight bounce) the gauge drifted to the right.

Each group was then asked to get the gauge to move to the right or to the left, and the participants quickly sorted out how to change their bodies to manipulate the gauge in the desired direction, reports Scientific American. What's more, after changing their gaits to move the gauge, those who achieved a more depressed gait in order to move it to the left remembered more negative words they'd been shown on a list prior to their treadmill task, while those with a more upbeat gait recalled more positive words. (Another study involving mood recently found that if women are happy in marriage, men are, too.)

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