New research has shown if you exercise in nature, it can improve your mental state compared to exercising in a gym.
Researchers from Glasgow University looked at natural and non-natural environments for physical activity and found walking, running and cycling in nature, such as a stroll in a park or a jog through a forest, lowered stress and improved a person’s mental health.
The study, which involved people suffering from depression and anxiety, found only activities that were done outside in a natural environment were associated with an improvement in mental health by as much as 50 percent.
The study’s lead author, Richard Mitchell said, “It seems that woodland and forest seem to have the biggest effect on helping to lower mental health problems. That makes sense with what we thought we knew. That is, the brain likes to be in the natural environment and it reacts to being there by turning down our stress response. Being in areas that have lots of trees and grassy areas help to calm us down, and obviously a forest has this.”
What We Have to Say: Exercise outside whenever possible. Walk, run or bike through a Forest Preserve or other trail in your area. When the weather is bad, exercise indoors.
For a list of trails in your area, a resourceful link is provided below: