The Benefits of Walking for Depression


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At Magnolia Ranch Recovery, we take pride in providing holistic therapies that aid in addiction recovery and mental health treatment. One of these treatment methods includes allowing our patients to take relaxing, guided journeys through our very own sensory trails spread throughout our 106-acre property, which may be combined with our equine-assisted therapy. Our trails offer serenity and a space for people to reinvigorate and reclaim their spirit, which may have been overpowered by addiction or a mental health disorder such as depression. Along with our residential treatment programs, explore what a walk through our trails can do for you today.

How Exercise and Mental Health Are Connected

Studies show that regular exercise, such as walking, can help reduce anxiety and depression while improving overall mood in general. During exercise, your body experiences increased neurological activity that can help to promote brain functions such as motivation, problem-solving, learning, and stress management. Furthermore, it produces certain neurotransmitters or hormones that help to support your general well-being. Some of these include the following:


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for allowing you to feel satisfaction, pleasure, and motivation. It’s often associated with the happy feelings you get after achieving something important to you. When you experience something that feels “rewarding,” it’s because there is a surge of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine also encourages excitement to perform certain actions that can influence your behavior, especially when working to accomplish a goal, such as overcoming depression. Completing a workout or a walk can activate the reward system in your brain and increase dopamine circulation.


Serotonin is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone that plays several crucial roles in your body. More than influencing happiness, learning, and memory, it also helps to regulate your body temperature, hunger, sexual behavior, and sleep. It has been proven by multiple studies over time that serotonin levels are reduced in someone who has depression. In fact, most antidepressant medications are even referred to as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which work to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Aerobic exercise, such as biking, dancing, or running, is known to boost serotonin.


Endorphins are hormones produced by your brain when you’re doing certain activities to block your perception of pain and help you feel good. These activities include continuous exercise, laughter, and sex, among many others. Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers, and they’re often associated with the “feel-good” emotions you experience during or after any of the activities mentioned above.

Noradrenaline (or Norepinephrine)

Noradrenaline is also both a neurotransmitter and a hormone that is involved in your body’s “fight or flight” response. It also plays a critical role in regulating cognitive function, focus, arousal, and stress. Noradrenaline or norepinephrine levels can fall due to things like chronic stress, anxiety disorders, or depression. When someone has low levels of noradrenaline, they can feel tired, lethargic, distracted, and unmotivated. Regular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, combined with healthy sleep habits, can help increase noradrenaline levels.

What Going for a Walk Does for Depression

Walking is a simple way to get into the habit of exercising and manage the effects associated with depression. If you can, taking a simple 15 to 30-minute walk each day can help boost feel-good chemicals in your body that help to fight depressive or anxious thoughts, feelings, or habits. When coupled with exposure to nature, the benefits can increase tremendously. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can help to improve mood, regulate the nervous system, lower blood pressure, improve self-esteem, and even reduce anxiety and depression.

Benefits of Walking in Nature

Boosts Creativity

It is said that taking short walks can help improve focus and concentration, while taking long walks can allow your mind to relax and wander, opening up the free flow of creative ideas.

Improves Health & Fitness

According to the National Institute of Health, the chance of cancer, heart disease, cancer, and premature death goes down by 10% for every 2,000 steps you take, with a peak at 10,000 steps a day. Even just a little less than 10,000 steps a day (such as 9,800 steps) can still cut the risk of developing dementia by half, with those who walk about 3,800 steps a day having a 25% lower risk.

Puts You in the Present Moment

Taking nature walks, whether or not you’re doing walking meditations, is actually one of the best ways to introduce more mindfulness into your routine.  Mindfulness is a mental state that you achieve by focusing on your present moment. It is a therapeutic technique that allows you to acknowledge and accept feelings, thoughts, and sensations in your body with the goal of not getting caught up in the trivial stressors of everyday life. As a result, you can develop emotional resilience and a greater capacity to handle challenges thrown your way.

Holistic Treatment for Depression and Substance Use Disorders

In addition to clinical therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Magnolia Ranch Recovery offers several holistic treatment options for addiction and depression in Pulaski, TN, including:

Our recovery center strives to be a place of safe haven for individuals seeking rehabilitation and treatment for various addiction and mental health issues that they feel are keeping them from living their best lives. If you’re ready to create an impactful and lasting change in your life, our professionals can help you develop a plan for addiction recovery that addresses all your needs. Come take a walk with us today.

Explore Depression Treatment Programs in Pulaski, TN

Magnolia Ranch Recovery offers both clinical and holistic therapies that aim to address depression while in drug or alcohol addiction treatment. Experience our quiet refuge of recovery and rediscover the important parts of yourself that have been lost along the road. Your clinical staff is here to help you rediscover who you are, reconnect with the world, and achieve the objectives you set both during and after your stay. For more information about enrollment or our full line of addiction and mental health services, visit our recovery center in Pulaski, TN, or contact us at (931) 240-5774.

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Picture of Esra Ahmed - MS, NCC, LPC, MHSP
Esra Ahmed - MS, NCC, LPC, MHSP

Experienced Clinical Director with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Skilled in Anger Management, Healthcare, Medicine, EMDR, and Life Transitions. Strong healthcare services professional with a Masters Degree focused in Psychology from The University of Memphis.

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