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How walking can ease your mind

It takes little time or effort, but a mindful walk can help boost your mood during the menopause

  • A 10-minute walk can increase alertness, mood and energy levels
  • Mindful walking can help you connect with yourself and your surroundings
  • Discover how to walk mindfully and reap the benefits

Rightly or wrongly, for many of us the idea of exercise has been linked to a physical goal – working out to lose weight, “to shape up for summer” or get fit. But the menopause can be a time to readdress this attitude and find a deeper meaning through movement.

Menopausal symptoms can lead women to adjust or ditch their usual workout – it’s not easy to exercise when you’re experiencing hot flushes, joint pains or fatigue, for instance. Walking, however, is a low impact, no-fuss way to not only help your symptoms but reduce your risk of depression and generally improve your wellbeing.

RELATED: Lost motivation? How to regain your fitness mojo in menopause

Why women like to walk

A poll was conducted, involving nearly 6,000 women, to inform balance founder Dr Louise Newson’s book, the Definitive Guide to Perimenopause and Menopause, this found walking was by far the most popular form of exercise, with 75% of respondents saying it benefited their physical and mental health. 

While you can use walking to achieve fitness goals, it’s a fabulous way to improve your mental health. After all, your mind and body are connected.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, which made the theme of its 2024 Mental Health Awareness Week “Movement: Moving more for our mental health”, regular movement is one of the most important things you can do to help protect your mental health. It can increase your energy, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost your self-esteem, making you feel better about your body.

It says even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking is enough to boost your mood, increase mental alertness (very useful if you experience brain fog as a menopausal symptom) and energy.

RELATED: 5 reasons to walk more during the menopause

If you have more time to spare, then a study – which over a 10-year period looked at more than 4,000 people aged 50 years and over – found that a brisk 20-minute walk, five times a week significantly reduces the risk of depression [1].

A review of 80 articles into physical activity around menopause found that two studies based on walking interventions reported a reduction of menopausal symptoms and enhanced satisfaction with life [2].  

Elevate your walk

Walking is one of the easiest movements most of us make – we do it without thinking, even if it’s just walking across the kitchen to put the kettle on. But you can boost the wellbeing effects of a walk by making it mindful.

Quite simply, mindful walking is about tapping into how you’re moving, the way it makes you feel both physically and mentally, and connecting to your surrounding environment.

You may have practiced mindfulness before. If not and you’d like to try, the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation offers free, 30-minute mindfulness practice sessions on weekdays. Or you may have given mindfulness a go and found it tricky or felt too self-conscious. An advantage of mindful walking is that it feels more natural and can easily be fit into your existing daily routine.

RELATED: Does mindfulness help with menopause?

You don’t need to walk in idyllic countryside for mindful walking – it can be done anywhere because it’s where you are mentally that counts not physically. You don’t need a destination in mind, you can just walk aimlessly. You can also transform some of your everyday experiences, such as a walk to the shops, by reframing them as mindful walks.

The key is to use your way as a chance to connect firstly with yourself, and then with the world around you.

How to walk mindfully

  1. Before you start, stand and bring your attention to how you feel. Think about your feet rooted to the ground and consider your posture. Take a few deep breaths.
  2. Start walking at your natural pace – you don’t need to think about technique, just walk as you would normally.
  3. Think about how your body feels. You can start from your feet then move your way up. Feel how your foot rolls from heel to toe with each step. Tune into the muscles in your legs and be aware of sensations in your body as you shift from side to side.
  4. Get into a rhythm, keeping your attention inwards. Now think about your breath. Again, keep it natural. If you can breathe deeply, even better.
  5. Start to notice your surroundings and tune into your senses. Can you feel a breeze or rain on your face? What can you hear? Leaves rustling, birds, cars? What can you smell and see? It might be small details like spotting your shadow or more obvious, like passersby or traffic.
  6. Don’t worry if you mind wanders – this is natural. Just bring your thoughts back to your breath, your body or focus on your senses. You’ll probably need to do this many time, and that’s fine!
  7. When you’ve finished your walk take a moment to stand still, take some deep breaths and think about how you feel.

Getting the most out of your mindful walk

The idea of mindful walking is to help you relax and reduce stress so you may be happy to simply incorporate it into your day. But if you need more motivation, you could create a movement journal to track your progress and how you feel before and after your walk.

If you need more help or inspiration, there are guided walking meditation practices online – has useful resources.

Finally, remember that the days where you feel low or your mental health is poor are those where you’ll reap the biggest mood benefits by moving. A mindful walk, even for just five minutes, can be an important part of your self-care.

RELATED: the importance of breathing efficiently with Dr Louise Oliver


  1. Laird E, Rasmussen CL, Kenny RA, Herring MP. Physical Activity Dose and Depression in a Cohort of Older Adults in The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(7). doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.22489
  2. Maria Hybholt, Psychological and social health outcomes of physical activity around menopause: A scoping review of research, Maturitas, Volume 164, 2022, Pages 88-97,


How walking can ease your mind

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