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The TikTok trend that's genuinely vital to your wellbeing

Lace up your boots for the TikTok trend everyone needs to try...

tiktok mental health walk© Photo: iStock
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
Updated: March 20, 2023
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TikTok has served up some great walking trends for fitness fans, from summer 2022's Hot Girl Walk to the ever-popular 12-3-30 treadmill workout. The latest one to take the platform by storm is the #stupidwalkchallenge. – and this is one trend that's certainly stupid by name but not by nature.

So what's the deal? The hashtag had over 74 million views at the time of writing, and sees users set off on a walk, captioned: "Going on a stupid walk for my stupid mental health," before setting off for a stroll.

@breelenehan wait it actually works tho… (realistic health tips on my lG: breeelenehan) #movement #mentalhealth #newyear #bye2021 #fitcheck #areyounewhere #fittok ♬ this is what falling in love feels like - JVKE

WATCH: TikTok's mental health walk challenge 

Walking for our mental health became a thing during the various lockdowns, but while many other pandemic passions have fallen by the wayside (we can't look at banana bread in the same way anymore), walking remains a staple in many of our days.

"Our physical health and mental health are closely linked and physical activity such as walking can be very beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing," says Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind

woman walking in a city wearing a hat and scarf© Photo: iStock

Walking is beneficial for our mental health

He's right - group nature walks have even been linked to significantly lower levels of depression and enhanced wellbeing, according to a study by Michigan University.

"Being active outdoors helps us switch off from everyday pressures, clear our heads and relieves stress by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol which has been linked to a range of mental health problems including depression and anxiety," Stephen continues.

READ: 10 celebrities share small changes they've made to improve their mental health

Being outside is proven to have positive mental effects, including allowing you to get away from day-to-day pressures and properly switch off in a calm outdoor space, helping you feel more relaxed, adds Stephen, and it's something that HELLO!'s lifestyle managing director Kate Thomas can relate to. She tries to walk each morning before work, and reaps the benefits when she does so.

"I genuinely feel happier on the days I walk before work," she said. "I think it makes a big difference and I feel more productive."

woman walking in the woods wearing a neon jacket© Photo: iStock

Walking in nature and in the city help ease anxiety

"I find I feel actively frustrated on the days I'm working from home if I don't make it outside. I struggle to keep up with emails and start the day with a much more negative mindset.

"But if I go for a walk, I typically also make time to have a healthy breakfast, and a nice shower and then I open my laptop feeling positive and more energised about the day ahead."

READ: 5 best supplements for anxiety: what to take when you're feeling worried

Freelance PR Erica Vonderwall feels the same. She walks around seven miles with her dog every day, come rain or shine. "I'm not saying I love a rainy dog walk, but it's a great way to start the day, clear the cobwebs, and awaken the soul," she says.

ERICA WALKING© Photo: Instagram

Erica Vonderwall says walking with her dog has helped her mental health

Someone else who has reaped the positive rewards of walking is Michelle Regan, who leads the Mental Health Mates Walk in Leeds.

Mental Health Mates is a weekly walk set up by journalist Bryony Gordon, to create a safe space for people to talk about their mental health.

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"I'm 42 and have diagnoses of Bipolar disorder and BPD," Michelle says. "I'm in recovery from alcohol dependency and am awaiting an ADHD referral. Walking hasn't made my challenges disappear but it does make things easier to manage.

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"I've realised that when my head feels full, if I can force myself to go outside, I will feel a bit more able to get on with tasks when I return.

"I've never regretted going for a walk and I try and keep this in mind on my tough days. It has also improved my over health and I've got to know my local area better - you notice things that you might not see if you're in car or on a bus. Similarly, I've met new people in my local area on walks with my dog.

"Mental Health Mates walks are really easy to access. We’re not a medical or professional therapy service, so there are no referrals, waiting lists or costs.

graphic copy photo asking friends if they want to go for a walk © Photo: Instagram

Mental Health Mates organises group walks 

"There's also no criteria for people to meet in order to join - everyone has mental health so everyone is welcome - plus there's the flexibility of being able to turn up on the day, without having to book.

"Being around others who may have similar experiences to you can really help feel you connected and less alone. I'm really proud to be a Walk Leader - I am always blown away when members are brave enough to come along and seeing them connect with strangers is just magic. I've never had anyone come along who hasn’t felt better at the end of a walk. This inspires me to keep going!"

Find your local mental health walk here

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