Study: nature walks reduce stress, make us happier

Joshua Tree National Park

Flickr, Graham

A new study has scientifically proven what so many of us already intuitively know: walks in nature decrease stress and increase mental well-being.

Research published in last month's issue of Ecopsychology was conducted by the University of Michigan and Edge Hill University in England.

Scientists monitored more than 1,900 participants in England’s Walking for Health program, which hosts about 3,000 walks every week. 

They found that nature walks were associated with significantly less depression and that they reduced the negative effects of stress.

“After 13 weeks, those who walked at least once a week experienced positive emotions and less stress," lead author Sara Warber told Outside Magazine. Warber is associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Warber and her co-authors recommend walking in nature at least three times a week to experience these benefits. Short, frequent hikes are actually more beneficial than long, occasional ones.

“Walking in nature is a coping mechanism—the benefits aren’t just physical,” said Warber. “Stress isn’t ever going to go away, so it is important to have a way to cope with it."

Join us in making sure that the places we walk in also never go away.


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