Walking with a slouched or despondent posture can lead to feelings of depression or decreased energy, according to new research, which notes that these feelings can be reversed by walking in a more upright position.
San Francisco State University Professor of Health Education Erik Peper, Ph.D., found that simply altering body posture to a more upright position can improve mood and energy levels.
“We tend to think the brain and body relationship goes one way. In fact, the passages go both ways,” Peper said.
“When you choose to put your body in a different mode, it’s harder to drop into depression.
“What we’re saying is that if you start integrating more body movements into your daily life, your energy level stays higher and your quality of life is better,” he continued.
“It’s very similar to the principle of ‘fake it till you make it’ — you can convince your body to have more energy.”
Peper surveyed 110 students in his classes who were instructed to walk down the hallway in a slouched position and then skip down the hallway. A few minutes later, the students were asked to rate their energy levels.
For the whole group, slouched walking decreased energy levels while skipping increased energy.
The students also took questionnaires to rate their level of depression. Students who were generally more depressed reported far lower energy levels after slouched walking than those who were not depressed.
The findings may offer an explanation for how environmental factors such as posture can increase the tendency toward a cycle of depression, according to Peper.
While there are many other factors that influence depression and energy levels, the researcher noted that this latest study demonstrates that “in this epidemic of depression, there are simple interventions you can do to help yourself.”
The study was published in the journal Biofeedback.
Source: San Francisco State University