A stroll through the park or a run through the woods may be twice as good as exercising in the gym, a new study has found.
Professor Richard Mitchell of Glasgow University polled nearly 2,000 physically active people in a Scottish Health Survey, finding that the only time exercise lowered the risk of poor mental health was when it was associated with a natural environment.
“There was around a 50% improvement in people’s mental health if they were physically active in the natural environment, compared to those who weren’t,” he said in an interview with The Telegraph. “These aren’t serious mental health issues, more struggles in general life, things like mild depression, not being able to sleep, high stress levels or just feelings of not being able to cope.”
Michell adds that he was not surprised by the findings that natural environments are better for our mental health, but he was surprised by the drastic difference in numbers. His biggest conclusion is that doctors, planners, and policy makers need to make sure they are doing what they can to promote and protect our natural environment.
One walk or jog a week is sufficient as far as giving your mental health a boost, but more than that is obviously even better. If you suffer from anxiety and/or depression, whether from your job or other factors, adding this into your schedule may yield some worthy results.
Do you exercise outside frequently, or are you more loyal to the gym?
Image CC licensed by Tony Fischer: Path through the trees