New research published in BMC Psychiatry reveals that walking 10,000 steps a day, over the course of 100 days, can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, weight loss, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
In one of the largest health studies carried out at a workplace, two thousand participants in the Stepathlon, a corporate wellness challenge dedicated to achieving better physical and mental health outcomes, reveals consistent and positive impacts on all measures of mental health.
Lead author Victoria University’s Professor Maximilian de Courten, a world-renowned epidemiologist and Director of the Centre for Chronic Disease, said, “The results of this research indicate that participation in the challenge can improve mental health and wellbeing. With over 2000 participants, this important mental health study demonstrates that simple and inexpensive workplace-based interventions can make important improvements in levels of depression, stress and anxiety.”
Annual global costs of mental health problems are estimated at 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars (approx. 3.9 trillion AUD) and expected to rise to 6 trillion U.S. dollars (approx. 7.4 trillion AUD) by 2030 – putting mental illness costs above that of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
People who experience mental illness are also known to be at a much higher risk of morbidity and early mortality from physical health issues, compared with the general population.
Professor de Courten, a Global Public Health expert with substantial experience in interventions ranging from the aetiology of chronic diseases and clinical trials, says the Happy Feet study “is a critical piece of research because it is relevant to Australia’s entire working community. Millions of Australians experience stress every day – but now we know there is a way to combat the lasting negative impacts by simply moving more.”
Happy Feet: evaluating the benefits of a 100-day 10,000 step challenge on mental health and well-being study key findings:
- Depression/Low Mood reduced by 8%, Anxiety reduced by 5%, Stress reduced by 9%, and Mental Wellbeing increased by 2%
- Analysis of participants doing less/more than 10,000 steps/day for 100 days: Depression/Low Mood reduced 5% v 8%, Anxiety reduced 1% v 6%, Stress reduced 5% v 11%
- This is the first research paper to show a ‘Dose Response’ of walking steps/day in improving mental health: At 7,500 steps/day Stress reduced by 6.6%. At 7500 & 12,500 steps/day stress reduced by 7.1%, at 12,500 and 17,500 steps/day stress reduced by 9.1%, and at 17,500 steps/day stress reduced by 12.00%
(Source: Victoria University)