Researchers Analyze Nature Group Walks to Fight Depression and Stress

Walking outdoors, especially as a group, can help fight depression, improve mood, and boost overall health.
  • Date
    24 Sep 2014
  • Country
    USA
  • Institution
    Edge Hill University
  • Professional
    Melissa R. Marselle, Ph.D. & Sara Warber MD
  • Type of Study
    Large scale study
  • Sample Size
    1991

Researchers from Edge Hill University in the UK, led by Melissa R. Marselle and Sara Warber, recently published a study that revealed taking group nature walks can help lower depression and stress, and promote overall well-being.

The Study

The team of researchers evaluated a test group of 1,991 participants from the Walking for Health program across England. They found that the group of people who had recently experienced stressful life events (i.e. death of a loved one or serious illness) that went on the group nature walks reported significantly improved moods after the walks.

What Came Out of it?

The findings of this study suggest that simply talking a walk outdoors with a group of friends, or even strangers, can considerably lift your mood and improve mental health. The findings also gave researchers hope of an effective non-medicated alternative to treating serious mental conditions, like depression.

Additionally, it has been widely reported that exercising has been known to release "feel-good" chemicals in the brain, like serotonin, which help combat depression, reaffirming the findings of this study.

What does this Mean?

This means that something as simple and cost-free as walking outdoors with people can help fight depression and improve mood and overall mental health - not to mention reaping the physical benefits of walking.

Walking outdoors also stimulates the senses and the mind, as well as providing a change of scenery. There are support groups all over, like the Walking for Health program in England - which facilitates around 3,000 walks per week, attracting around 70,000 walkers per year.

Bibliography

  • University of Michigan Health, Walking off depression and beating stress outdoors? Nature group walks linked to improved mental health