Walking off depression and beating stress outdoors? Nature group walks linked to improved mental health
Group nature walks are linked with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress and enhanced mental health and well-being, according to the study conducted by the University of Michigan, with partners from De Montfort University, James Hutton Institute, and Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom. The findings appear in a special issue of Ecopsychology devoted to ‘Ecopsychology and Public Health’.
People who had recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, marital separation or unemployment especially seemed to see a mood boost after outdoor group walks.
“We hear people say they feel better after a walk or going outside but there haven’t been many studies of this large size to support the conclusion that these behaviors actually improve your mental health and well-being,” says senior author Sara Warber, M.D., associate professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School and member of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.
Researchers evaluated 1,991 participants from the Walking for Health program in England, which helps facilitate nearly 3,000 weekly walks and draws more than 70,000 regular walkers a year.
“Group walks in local natural environments may make a potentially important contribution to public health and be beneficial in helping people cope with stress and experience improved emotions.”
Three takeaways from this – gentle exercise, with others, outdoors. Couldn’t get any simpler.
Keeping with this week’s theme, a bit of the awesome Aussie, Xavier Rudd, and his song The Mother
Do you feel it in the sunshine
Do you feel it in the rain
Do you feel it in the ocean
When the waves are clean
Do you feel it in the evening
When the moon is up
Do you feel it in your bones
When she fills you up
Oh yeah she breathes good luck
Mother Earth Mother Earth