For those who don’t spend countless hours scrolling TikTok, the trend sees posters share a 10 second clip of themselves simply going for a walk, often with a comical connotation that they are not enjoying the walk itself.
Clearly there is nothing new about going for a walk, however recent restrictions placed all around the world due to the pandemic are why this resonates with all of us so much.
For many months, walking or jogging were two of the only options for people seeking physical activity, and in many cases one of only a few reasons for someone to leave the confines of their house.
So what are the physical and mental benefits of taking our own ‘silly little walk’?
How much is enough?
Unhealthy behaviours, such as physical inactivity are preventable causes of chronic disease that account for a large majority of morbidity and premature mortality in developed countries. The humble walk takes on extra importance in times where there may be limited access to other forms of exercise. But how much walking is enough to stave off the impending doom and gloom of chronic disease?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) came to a scientific consensus that there are substantial health benefits when individuals accrue 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity cardiovascular activity. So, therefore, a silly little walk once a day may be enough to keep you fighting fit and healthy for years to come.
Benefits of a Silly Little Walk
Self-esteem, cognitive function, positive mood and quality of life are all increased with regular exercise. Physical activity can also assist in the prevention and treatment of depression, anxiety and stress.
In a time where we are seeing a drastic increase in the number of people reaching out for professional assistance when it comes to mental health, the role of physical activity can not be understated. Lifeline, Kids Helpline and Beyond Blue have each recorded 33.1 per cent, 16.7 per cent and 20.9 per cent increases respectively in their call volumes when compared to the same time period in 2019. This worrying statistic is largely attributed to the global pandemic that has plagued the world for the past two years.
How exactly does walking improve mental health?
Combinations of both the endorphin release from physical activity, and the environmental stimulus of outdoor exercise are key drivers to this. And while we can’t always count on social media to provide positive sources of encouragement or engagement when it comes to health, jumping on board the “Silly Little Walk” trend may actually not be so silly after all!
If you are looking for the best bang for your buck with your walks, follow the science and aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity walking each day, which can be enhanced further if performed in natural environments. Happy walking!
Brodie Hicks is the general manager of training at the Australian Institute of Fitness and has spent the better part of the past decade within the fitness industry working in both the education and strength and conditioning fields.