How taking a walk may improve social cognition

There is a theory that increased complexity in social interactions contributed to the relatively large size of the human brain, compared to other mammals. Researchers have suggested that physical activity actually has contributed to our big brains as well. Additionally, they suggest that physical activity has a strong connection with our social cognition on an individual level. So how much does exercise really improve social cognition?

Physical activity and social cognition

Social cognition refers to the cognitive processes surrounding how we think of ourselves and how we relate to others. Our behavior with others and the ways we interact with the world around us are dependent on these cognitive skills. 

The hormone oxytocin is released when we complete aerobic activities, for example going for a walk or a bike ride. People who exercise regularly are likely to have higher levels of oxytocin. This hormone has a huge impact on our social cognition skills.

The power of Oxytocin

The hormone Oxytocin has powerfully stabilizing effects, including mood regulation and emotion recognition. Both of these are important components of social cognition. These skills help us to empathize with others and get along with them.

Oxytocin is essentially a feel-good hormone that can help us feel more relaxed. It has been shown to make us feel more connected to loved ones.

So, going for a walk may improve not only your mood, but also your social cognition! This means that your ability to speak with and relate to others at work, among family, and in your personal life may be improved by exercising.

Other ways to release Oxytocin include touch (like a hug) and listening to music. Consider going for a walk with a loved one, or walking while listening to music for a potential extra boost to your social cognition!

taking a walk social cognition

Conversely, a lack of oxytocin can cause us to feel overwhelmed, unbalanced, and even depressed. Considering how important social interaction is for our happiness, social cognition skills play a big part in our sense of satisfaction with our lives.


We know it might sound a little silly to say that taking a walk may help you become more socially connected, more relaxed and increase your overall satisfaction. But it truly is the little things that can cause far-reaching improvements to our lives! To help yourself thrive in all aspects of life, consider focusing a bit more on simple, oxytocin-releasing activities like taking a walk.

Aly Castle

Aly is HappyNeuron Pro’s Content Specialist. She is passionate about mental health and well-being and loves utilizing her design background to share important cognitive information clearly and understandably.

Related Content in Exercise,friendship,Social Cognition

Recent Articles

HappyNeuron Pro Logo

Are you a therapist looking for Cognitive Stimulation tools for your patients?

Check out HappyNeuron Pro’s FREE Worksheets !