You've heard that forcing yourself to smile can improve your mood. Well, a new study published online in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry shows that walking in a happy manner can make you happier, too.
Researchers showed 39 undergraduates words associated with happiness (such as pretty) and words associated with depression (such as anxious).
They then were asked to start walking on a treadmill. A screen showed the subjects a gauge that moved left or right depending on whether their walking style was more depressed or happier, but the subjects didn't know what the gauge was measuring; they were just told to get it to move either to the right or to the left.
Unknowingly, the participants changed their walking patterns on a to either reflect the characteristics of depressed patients, with poorer posture and little to no arm-swinging, or a happy walking style, with an upright posture and swinging arms.
s, the subjects were asked to write down as many of the words they were shown as they could remember. Those who walked in a slumped over, depressed manner were able to recall fewer of the positive words and more of the negative words than had those who had walked with a pep in their step. From this, the authors concluded that a person's style of walking affects his or her vulnerability to depression.
In other words, dragging your feet along in protest of a crappy morning will only worsen your mood. Instead, fake it 'til you make it. Force yourself to smile and keep your head up — and you may find yourself doing it naturally.