Fun fact: Thanksgiving is the most popular day of the year to go for a run in the U.S. The holiday season is kicking off differently, so instead of a turkey trot, go for a gratitude walk to give thanks. During this unusual and trying year, walking and gratitude are a great combination.
In addition to the proven health benefits gained from this physical activity, sprinkling in some gratitude will lift your mood and reduce your stress. Think of a gratitude walk as mental exercise! Here’s how to start down a healthy road, one thankful step at a time.
Moving in a Positive Direction
A gratitude walk is essentially walking with a calm state of mind. It is about focusing on being present and feeling grateful. It is also about paying attention to what you see, hear, and smell. Just open your mind and heart and come up with anything you are grateful for.
The path you choose, familiar or different, is not the point — it is about the experience on the journey. Twenty minutes is the perfect amount of time, but a longer walk is even better! And don’t forget to leave the cellphone at home — this is no time for distractions, only appreciative thoughts.
Express gratitude silently, out loud, or if you’ve got a walking buddy from your household along with you, shared. You can even write it all down when you get home to revisit later to get right back into that positive mindset.
Positivity will fuel you forward, but negativity, especially in this present moment, can creep in. Just acknowledge those bad feelings and release them. Detours and setbacks that seem to get in our way can often be learning experiences.
Walking Your Way to Wellness
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said: “Walking is the best medicine.” A gratitude walk, in particular, is an excellent treatment.
Walking helps rewire the brain. The science of positive psychology suggests affirmative emotions can lead to happiness and health. Studies show practicing gratitude not only improves your mood but also strengthens your immune system and even helps you sleep better!
Now get present, and express that gratitude this Thanksgiving. Don’t just think it, feel it. Like anything, practice makes perfect, so keep it up all holiday season and into the new year!