Does Walking Increase Serotonin?

does walking increase serotonin

If you’re looking for a natural way of raising your serotonin levels, try going for a brisk walk. Any kind of exercise, even as light as walking, can increase your brain’s natural production of the happiness hormone, along with decreasing stress hormones like cortisol. 

Many people chase happiness these days. Or should we say, they chase serotonin, the brain’s chemical messenger that creates the feeling of bliss and happiness.

In addition to being critical for a healthy mood, serotonin also regulates your digestion, appetite and physical movement. Serotonin also:

  • Promotes sleep by regulating your circadian rhythm
  • Supports memory and learning
  • Promotes social behavior

On the other hand, having too little serotonin means you’ll:

  • be irritable and agressive
  • feel anxious and/or depressed
  • find it hard to control impulses
  • have appetite fluctuations
  • crave carbs

You can increase your brain’s serotonin levels naturally, via diet, exercise, and yes, walking too. In this article, we’ll answer some of your questions in regard to how walking affects the happiness neurotransmitter – including the answer to ” does walking after eating increases serotonin?”

Does Walking Increase Serotonin?

Any form of exercise, including walking, helps boost feel-good hormones that reduce stress, improve the immune system and enhance your overall well-being. (1)

[alert type=”info” icon-size=”normal”]Some people who take on a new hobby such as running, CrossFit or another form of physical activity get ‘addicted’ to exercising, because the activity increases their endorphins and serotonin brain levels. You can achieve a similar effect with walking, although maybe not to the same extent – we’ll touch upon this more in the next section.[/alert]

Another reason why exercise helps with the release of serotonin, is that it boosts the concentration of L-Tryptophan in your blood. (1) Tryptophan is an amino acid from which your brain makes serotonin. Therefore, having more Tryptophan means your brain will have the building blocks available to create more of the ‘happy hormone’.

Does Walking After Eating Increase Serotonin?

Physical activity such as walking kickstarts serotonin production in your brain and also boosts its levels. Even though it’s not as intense as, say, running, walking is great for your metabolism too – boosting up your metabolic rate while improving how your muscles utilize calories. Ideal for those who’re looking to get lean and fit.

As you incorporate walking into your regular routine, not only will your serotonin rise but dopamine will too. Dopamine is another brain chemical that’s responsible for feelings of motivation and pleasure. It’s called the ‘reward molecule’ for a reason. In this case the rewards are the good feelings but also the results you see on your body from doing regular exercise.

So, the lesson here? Don’t press the snooze button in the morning, instead, take those 10-15 minutes to go for a walk in the sunshine. This will perk your serotonin in addition to providing you with the mood-enhancing vitamin D. Put simply, you’ll be a fitter and happier you!

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Brisk Walking is Better

Walking is great, but if you want to take it one step further, try aerobic exercise. If you aren’t very used to it, start at a level you’re comfortable at, because aerobic exercise has been shown to have the biggest effect on our mood and mental wellbeing. Anything that gets your heart rate up will do!

Some examples of good aerobic exercises:

  • Jogging
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Brisk walking
  • Playing a sport

Anything Else to Consider?

In addition to a healthy lifestyle, some supplements help boost natural production of serotonin in your brain. They help by:

  1. Providing the tryptophan that’s needed for its synthesis
  2. Stimulating the release of serotonin in the brain
  3. Upregulating serotonin receptors
  4. Promoting healthy blood flow and neuron to neuron communication

Before taking any supplement, it’s important to check with your doctor first. Especially if you take any kind of medication.

In terms of choosing supplements, the most popular ones for mood and brain health are called ‘nootropics’. These have natural ingredients in them that have been shown through research to have positive effects on our brain.

An example of a great nootropic ingredient would be L-Tryptophan which we mentioned above. Another effective and natural nootropic is Rhodiola Rosea, which is seen in some studies to work on a similar level as some anti-depressants.

That said, do proper research before choosing a supplement. Avoid a product that uses proprietary blends which hide individual ingredient doses from you.

The Bottom Line

Serotonin is a critical brain hormone that affects everything from your mood to your digestion. If you’re looking for one of the best ways to increase serotonin naturally, then you can’t go wrong with walking. This physical activity, just like many others, helps to release the happy chemicals, making it good not only for your body but also your brain.

  1. Changes in markers of brain serotonin activity in response to chronic exercise in senior men. (source)

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