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Take a walk on the quiet side

Ever notice how calming it is to “go out and get some air”? Scientists report growing evidence that taking a simple walk—to settle nerves or to enjoy a sparkling afternoon—does wonders for our health.

  • Health experts have found that walking lowers stress and leads to a more positive mood. They suggest the quality of the walk—how much you enjoy it—brings emotional benefits.
  • Research at Duke University shows older Americans with depression are just as likely to feel better after walking as from medication.

Nothing special

No special equipment is required to walk your way to tranquillity. Just some comfortable clothes, sneakers and a quiet spot—the park, a country lane or the high-school football field—are all you need.

Walk for five or 10 minutes the first day and see how it goes. Let your mind focus inward and away from your problems. Some people concentrate on and repeat to themselves a calming word or a peaceful phrase. Others form a mental picture of the seashore, a sunset or a glowing fireplace—how it looks, what it sounds like, what it smells like and how it feels.

As long as your doctor says it’s safe, use whatever calming technique works for you. Build your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of easy walking three or four times a week. Best of all, even leisurely walking can burn up to 200 calories an hour. So take a walk and reap the benefits of less stress, greater serenity and a positive outlook on life.