Throughout the years, researchers have discovered new ways in which nature is good for you and your mental health. For example, did you know that spending time in nature reduces your stress? Now, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that, compared to urban settings, a walk in nature lowered negative emotional affect in people with major depressive disorder (MDD).
“While walking in nature has been shown to improve affect in adults from the community to a greater extent than walking in urban settings, it is unknown whether such benefits apply to individuals suffering from depression,” write the authors of the study. The team behind was set on working with individuals with mental health concerns, since most of the research done on the effects of nature don't feature people with a diagnosis or don't pay attention to the hours and days after the time spent outdoors. To do so, they set to find if a single 60-min walk had any repercussions in their mood.
The study had 37 participants, ages between 18 and 65, with more female than male representation, who were patients at a psychiatric outpatient clinic for persons with difficult-to-manage MDD. They were randomly assigned an urban walk on a busy street, or a stroll at a park away from the noise of the city. Both were to take place on a morning with good weather conditions. Participants were asked to avoid talking to each other for those 60 minutes.
The researchers collected data six different times before and after the walk—an hour before, during the walk, immediately after, and three, 24, and 48 hours after the stroll. While they didn't find any differences in positive affect, there was a decrease in negative affect, which stuck for two full days after the walk. The participants with the urban route also experience a decrease in negative affect, although it wasn't as strong as the nature group.
“There is a growing recognition that walking in nature could make us happier,” said Marie-Claude Geoffroy, study author and member of the Canada Research Chair in Youth Suicide Prevention to PsyPost. “A simple walk in nature, whether in the forest or in an urban park, is effective in relieving negative thoughts and feelings.”
A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that, compared to urban settings, a walk in nature lowered negative emotional affect in people with major depressive disorder (MDD).
“A simple walk in nature, whether in the forest or in an urban park, is effective in relieving negative thoughts and feelings,” said Marie-Claude Geoffroy, study author.