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Walking, Nature and Mental Health

On Mental Health Day 2018 Have you ever noticed that warm fuzzy afterglow that emanates after a good walk? From a serious stomp to a gentle amble, walking – and generally spending time outdoors amongst nature – has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on our mental health. A neuroscience-led project based on findings from the app ‘Urban Mind’ which tracks users’ movements via their mobile devices has found a strong link between exposure to nature and wellbeing. Walking has been proven to have mental health benefits By walking to work in the morning, or taking the dog for a decent walk when you get up you really will be starting your day on the right note. The positive effects of a single exposure to nature – for example, a walk, run or spell in the garden – can last for up to seven hours after the activity has taken place. These positive feelings include being happier and in good spirits. That means that by walking to work in the morning, or taking the dog for a decent walk when you get up you really will be starting your day on the right note. Not everyone will have the same reaction after exposure to nature however. Interestingly, individuals at greater risk of developing mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, benefit more from getting outdoors than others.

Other benefits of regular walking

Not only can walking improve self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover. In older people, staying active can improve cognitive function, memory, attention and processing speed, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The physical improvements you gain by walking can help to improve your mental health too. If you feel fitter and feel in control of your weight, your body image and confidence can increase - so it's not just the physical benefits that you'll notice when you start walking. Invest in your long-term health now and you’ll see the difference that walking can make to your mind, your body and your social life. Walking in a group is a great way to get started and stay motivated, and what better place to go walking than Hestercombe’s 50 acres of gardens!
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