Outdoor activity benefits mental health
Many of us know that being more active outdoors is good for our physical health – but getting outdoors and into nature can improve mental health too.
Even simple activities like taking a stroll in the park, or gentle outdoor exercise can have big benefits for our mental wellbeing.
Ecominds projects have shown that activities like gardening, walking or cycling groups, green gyms, environmental conservation, and even surf schools can help lift mood, raise self-esteem and reduce stress for people with mental health problems.
In fact, research has demonstrated that supervised programmes of exercise can be equally effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression.1
Mind carried our some of its own research to see what benefits green exercise has on our wellbeing. Below are some of our key findings.
Green exercise evidence
We surveyed over 100 people taking part in green exercise activities which included gardening, walking groups, conservation work, running and cycling groups:
- 90% of people who took part in green exercise activities said that the combination of nature and exercise is most important in determining how they feel.2
- 94% of people commented that green exercise improves their mental health.2
- 90% of people commented that taking part in green exercise activities benefits their physical health.2
The benefits of outdoor walking
We looked at the role the environment plays on the effectiveness of green exercise for mental wellbeing. Using 20 people in two contrasting walks, one inside and the other outdoors in a natural setting, we found:
- 90% of people reported an increase in self-esteem after an outdoor walk verses 17% indoors.3
- 71% of people experienced a decrease in the levels of depression after an outdoor walk verses 45% indoors.3
- 71% people stated they felt less tense after an outdoor walk verses 28% indoors.3
Want to know more?
If you like to find out more about these studies and others, why don’t you download our report?
Ecotherapy: The green agenda for mental health.
- Halliwell, E (2005) Up and Running? Exercise therapy and the treatment of mild or moderate depression in primary care. Mental Health Foundation, London.
- Mind: (2007) Ecotherapy: The green agenda for mental health. Mind week report. Mind: London. Figures based on 108 participants involved in gardening projects, walking groups, conservation work, running and cycling groups.
- Mind: (2007) Ecotherapy: The green agenda for mental health. Mind week report. Mind: London. Outdoor versus indoor exercise, figures based on 20 participants.
You might also like…
Related Blog Posts
Keeping well when it's dark and cold
Verity blogs about how difficult it is to exercise whether it's cold and dark. She shares five tips on getting outside and boosting your mood.
How I use fitness to manage my Bipolar
Bipolargymchick blogs for us on how being fit and active has helped her manage her Bipolar. She talks about how to maintain a level that's right for her and what you can do to keep well through exercise.
How sport helped keep me well
Torch runner Verity ran through Kidlington last month and sold the torch to raise money for Mind. She talks about how sport can be a great way of keeping well.
- More blog posts