Can walking enhance the effects of written emotional disclosure?

The aim of the study is to explore whether walking after written emotional disclosure will have a beneficial effect on mood compared to written emotional disclosure alone.

man wearing sneakers walking

What's involved?

Past research has shown that written emotional disclosure about past stressful experiences can help people process the experience and improve mood. You are invited to take part in a study that explores whether the addition of walking to written emotional disclosure can have further benefits on mood. It has regularly been used as a research paradigm for over 30 years and, due to its significant and powerful effect, has been adapted into a number of standard psychological therapies. 

If you choose to participate, we will ask you to complete a demographic questionnaire, a questionnaire to assess your current mood state, and then undertake three 20-minute emotional writing exercises which include instructions on how to approach the writing. The products of the writing session will not be read by a person, instead they will be analysed by a computer programme called LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry Word Count), which will analyse the language you use to determine changes in the way you were writing. We may also ask you to walk for a short time. We will ask you to complete a questionnaire at the end of the final session and at a 4-week follow-up to help determine the effects on your mood. The follow-up will use the same mood questionnaire as you completed when you first arrived and will be conducted online, so there will be no need to come to the University again. The total time commitment from you is approximately 2 hours plus 5-10 minutes to complete a follow-up questionnaire after 4 weeks.

As a thank you from us, for both your much appreciated support and effort in completing the study, you will receive a $30 Countdown voucher.

Eligibility criteria

You're invited to participate in this research if you meet the following criteria:

  • Are between 18 and 50 years old
  • Are able to walk without disability at around 5kmh
  • Speak and type fluently in English
  • Have experienced a stressful or emotionally challenging event
  • Are able to travel to the University of Auckland Grafton campus

Contact details

Student Researcher

Michael Bannerman
Master of Health Psychology student
Department of Psychological Medicine

Principal Investigator

Dr Elizabeth Broadbent
Department of Psychological Medicine
Phone: (09) 3737599 Ext. 86756

Further information

Approved by the Auckland Health Research Ethics Committee on 17/03/2023 for three years.

Reference number AH25540.