Nature Walks Linked to Improved Mental Health

A new large-scale study links group nature walks with significantly lower depression and perceived stress, and enhanced mental well-being.

Photograph by Simon Huguet

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.

From senior 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:

Walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise and it turns out that combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster. Our findings suggest that something as simple as joining an outdoor walking group may not only improve someone’s daily positive emotions but may also contribute a non-pharmacological approach to serious conditions like depression.

Read the full study details.

You might also want to check out this walking meditation practice from clinical psychologist Elisha Goldstein. And you could bring along these four tips for mindfully appreciating nature.