Walking New Zealand
Need2Know: Indoor pathways improve people’s mental wellbeing
We are increasingly coming to understand that mental wellbeing is strongly shaped by social and physical environments, says a recent report from NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi around the relationship between transport and mental health.
Our changing transport environment brings with it different challenges for our mental health and wellbeing.
Positive transport systems for mental health include:
* Reducing long commutes
* Increasing active commuting and
* Walkable environments.
Not everyone can get active in our everyday commute, but most people can get outside in between work hours to change our environment.
Physical activity releases endorphins into our blood stream, whether that’s walking, cycling, mountain biking, horse riding or dog walking. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. They are our ‘feel good’ emotion after being active.
Physical activity also improves muscle and heart function, increases blood flow to the brain and increases the efficiency of brain chemicals. Not to mention, it can help us to get a good night’s sleep.
Physical activity also has a variety of psychological benefits. It can:
* Promote a sense of positive achievement
* Improve self-esteem
* Give you a sense of control over your life
* Help with weight control
* Provide opportunities for socialising and making new friends.