Walking is the most effective anti-depressant, reveals Max Bupa survey

97 percent walkers experience improvement in their mental and emotional wellbeing, as per the findings of the survey


New Delhi: In line with the theme of World Health Day 2017 – Depression – Max Bupa has unveiled the findings of its intercity consumer survey, Max Bupa Walk for Health. The fourth edition of the Max Bupa Walk For Health Survey reveals a strong correlation between walking and depression. According to the Survey, 97% of Indians who walk regularly, experience improvement in their mental and emotional health. Max Bupa Walk for Health Survey is a first of its kind study on walking behaviour of Millennials and Elderly carried across 4 cities, namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Jaipur.

Max Bupa Walk for Health Survey also reveals that walking helps control stress among people across age groups. While 42% of the elderly feel that walking helps beat stress, 50% of the millennials experience reduction of stress and hypertension, post walking. This is the highest for millennials in Bangalore at 68%, followed by Delhi (66%,) Mumbai (53%) and Jaipur (48%). Interestingly, over 40% of the respondents are motivated to walk because of interesting walking apps and gadgets that help them track their health.

The survey further reveals that those who don’t walk regularly are more prone to depression – nearly 15% of non-walkers admitted to be suffering from depression and high stress levels.  Amongst the depressed patients those who walk regularly, 59% say they forget about their illness while walking, 50% walk to break the monotony of daily life, 39% feel walking makes them happier, while 26% walk to improve their work-life balance. Walking gives 19% millennials time for self-introspection, while it gives 21% elderly the feeling of self-reliance. Walking helps patients with Depression interact with other people outside their house; interestingly this percentage was higher for millennials (20%) as compared to the elderly (12%).

Walking uplifts the mood, say 37% patients suffering from Depression. Almost 9 out 10 feel that walking helps reduce lifestyle-related illnesses.

The survey also states multiple barriers that stop patients with Depression from talking up walking as an exercise. 43% of them are unable to walk as long daily commute leaves them with no time for walking, 29% get bored while walking and believe that walking will not have a positive impact on their personality, 21% lack company to walk, and 21% are unaware of benefits of walking on their mental health.

Ashish Mehrotra, Managing Director and CEO, Max Bupa, said “Depression and failing mental health are key health issues in today’s fast-paced and stress-prone life. Millennials from the younger generation are more prone to mental ailments owing to shrinking emotional support and workplace pressure. Max Bupa Walk for Health Survey 2017 points that while 98% people walk to improve their physical appearance, 80% enjoy walking as it helps in enhancing one’s mental and emotional wellbeing. People are realizing that walking not only benefits them physically but also boosts their mental and emotional health. However, 30% Indians still lack the motivation to walk. Through our Max Bupa Walk for Health initiative, we endeavor to motivate more and more Indians to enhance their overall health and wellbeing by incorporating walking into their daily schedule.”

“Through Max Bupa Walk for Health, our aim is to sensitize people about the multiple benefits of walking. The Max Bupa Walk for Health Survey is a testament of people reaping multiple benefits from walking which include increased productivity at work (45%), improved energy levels (36%) and increased motivation (31%). We hope more and more people understand the importance of walking for a healthier, more successful life,” added Anika Agarwal, Head, Marketing, Max Bupa.

There are also other multiple perceived benefits of walking observed by the respondents who were surveyed. Most prominent benefits of walking include increased productivity at work (70%), cured insomnia (15%), improved alertness (56%), reduced sugar levels (48%) and increase in energy levels (50%). 75% of the patients took to walking after being diagnosed with an illness. More than half of the millennials in Delhi and Bangalore (54% and 59% respectively) feel more alert/energetic, post walking. Almost 48% women walkers reported enhancement in their productivity levels, post walking. More than 50% of the walkers forget their illness while walking. 50% of Bangaloreans feel more energetic, post walking. More than 2/3rd (67%) of the elderly in Jaipur feel that walking helps keep their knees/joints fit.

Usage of gadgets/technology plays an important for walkers, according to the Max Bupa Walk for Health Survey. 60% of the respondents use gadgets while walking. Usage of gadgets is more prominent amongst millennials in Delhi (70%) and Mumbai (72%), however only 50% of the elderly use gadgets. More than half of the millennial women walkers (54%) feel tech gadgets with reminders propel them to walk more.