New research studies the benefits of group walking
It’s no secret we LOVE outdoor walks here at DailyHap. They beat stress, make you instantly happier, and are excellent for your brain and bod.
But new research reveals that walking in groups has even more benefits! Group nature walks are linked with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress, and enhanced mental health and well-being, according to the new study from University of Michigan and published in Ecopsychology devoted to ‘Ecopsychology and Public Health’.
“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,” says study senior author Sara Warber, M.D., U-M Medical School and member of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.
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. People who had recently experienced stressful life events like a serious illness, death of a loved one, marital separation, or unemployment especially appeared to see a mood boost after outdoor group walks.
Warber says, “Group walks in local natural environments may make a potentially important contribution to public health and be beneficial in helping people cope with stress and experience improved emotions.”
Image: Walkers participate in a nature group walk through national Walking for Health program in England. / Credit: Walking for Health