A new study on walking in nature shows that you don’t have to run marathons or trek tens of miles to gain the mental and physical benefits of exercising outdoors. Newly-published research by University of Michigan and Edge Hill University in England found that even short, frequent walks in nature can significantly reduce stress levels. The research also indicates that participating in an organized group enhances the positive effects, and helps participants develop a walking habit.
The research team studied nearly 2,000 participants in England’s Walking for Health program, one of the largest public health initiatives with more than 70,000 participants across the UK. The study was the first of its kind to look at such a large group and to track the longer-term effects of outdoor group exercise. Not only did the nature walks enhance the walker’s mental well-being, but the fact that they were participating in a group activity meant that the walkers were more likely to stick to a walking routine.
There are many local trails available daily within the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, if you want to gather friends and family for your own small group walking activities. However, there are also scheduled programs in more secluded areas that might help motivate you to start a new healthy habit of group nature walks. For example, here is a list of easy outdoor activities for every day this week. These group nature walks are free with pre-registration – sign up for these and more at www.LetsGoOutside.org.