Health and wellbeing professionals actively encourage people to go for a walk in nature to reduce the risk of mental health.
It is estimated that one in four UK residents experience some form of mental health disorder every year. One in six suffer from common issues such as anxiety and depression.
A survey published by the UK’s Mental Health Organisation revealed that 62% of adults in the UK found stress relief by taking a walk during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Almost 50% of the respondents confirmed spending time in green spaces helped them cope with anxiety. The impact was noticed regardless of how far they walked.
UK doctors have been told to issue “green prescriptions” to help patients improve their physical and mental health.
“There are lots of ways in which spending time in nature can be positive for our mental health and wellbeing. From gaining a sense of peace and a boost to our self-esteem to improved concentration and the psychological restoration.” ~ Mental Health Foundation
An Intimate Link With Nature
Mankind has an intrinsic link to Mother Nature. Scientists are not quite sure why, but hundreds of studies record that being in natural surroundings increases sensory awareness and restores balance.
The healing effects of nature are vitally important in battling the impact of modern lifestyles. We spend too much time indoors, don’t get enough exercise and endure too much stress.
To reduce the risk of poor mental and physical health, or to ease your existing burden, nature walks help to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Research shows that walking in nature has more restorative effects than artificial exposure such as nature scenes on the TV or walking on a treadmill in a gym.
What’s more, the effects of nature walks were even greater when participants were stressed.
Health Benefits of Nature Walks
The powerful effects that nature has on your mind, body and spirit is reflected in the number of studies that have shown positive results across a number of disciplines in medical science.
As a matter of fact, studies suggest nature walks not only improves cognitive function and helps support the immune system, but gives us a boost of vitamin D, improves distance vision and enhances social interaction.
- Eases depression
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves memory
- Reduces symptoms of ADHD
- Helps stave off colds and flu
- Boosts endorphins and makes you feel happier
- Speeds up the recovery process after illness
- Reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses
- Improves athletic performance
- Aids weight loss
According to The People and Nature Survey conducted by Natural England, nine in 10 adults in the UK confirmed being in nature boosted their mood. Health and wellbeing are cited as one of the main reasons for getting outside along with fresh air and to connect with wildlife and nature.
“Walking keeps our bodies and minds healthy, giving us a breather from the stresses of daily life and the space to gather our thoughts. Exploring open countryside also brings us closer to nature, giving us time to notice how the raindrops cling to a spider’s web or listen to the wind in the trees.” ~ National Trust
Walking has plenty of health benefits in its own right but it appears the calming effect of natural surroundings provides the extra impetus. Walking in busy shopping centres and bustling streets does not have the same impact as nature walks.
Therapeutic Effects of Walking In Nature
The growing body of evidence that proves there is a significant link between nature and the reduced risk of mental health has sparked medically recommended treatments.
Shinrin-yoku, literally meaning, ‘forest bathing’ has been practised in the far-east for thousands of years. In the 1990s, the concept of ecotherapy popped up in California.
Ecotherapy takes advantage of the tranquil surrounding nature offers and seeks to restore a balance by stimulating sensory awareness. In 2018, doctors in Scotland were told to prescribe country walks.
Mind, a mental health charity in the UK promotes ecotherapy on their website.
“Our research shows people commissioning mental health services and social care that a holistic treatment like ecotherapy delivers not only health benefits, but wider social benefits and cost savings that medication could not. Ecotherapy improves mental wellbeing, it helps people to become more physically active, it gives people the skills to get back into work or training, and it helps people who are lonely or socially isolated to broaden their networks. These are all important factors that can prevent people from developing a mental health problem to start with.” ~ Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind
Being physically active enables you to take more air in through the lungs and into your bloodstream. Oxygen helps white blood cells improve your immune system.
Exercise also releases endorphins in the brain, neurochemicals that improve your mood and make you feel better about yourself. Endorphins have been described as “happy hormones”.
The Rhythm of Nature
Nature also has sounds and rhythms that create a calming effect. A review of 400 scientific papers exploring the viability of sound healing concluded that music regulates mood.
There has been an increase in the recording of natural surroundings for patients recovering from psychological and physical illness in clinical settings.
In 1952, the German physicist, Winfried Otto Schumann discovered that the Earth’s electromagnetic waves oscillate at a frequency of 7.83Hz – the same as the human body.
If everything is energy and all energy vibrates, just being in tune with the Earth’s natural rhythm could potentially have healing qualities. Nature walks provide a stress-free environment where you can connect and just BE.
Sweatcoin encourages healthy lifestyles and rewards walkers with digital tokens you can use in exchange for merchandise. For every 1000 steps, we give you 1SWC which you can trade with over 400 merchants.
Download the sweatcoin app today and improve your health with a nature walk. There is plenty of fun stuff you can do on nature walks with kids too so why not make nurturing a healthy lifestyle a family target.