Country walks can help with depression

Nature walks have the capacity to help improve cognitive abilities for individuals battling clinical depression. This is the suggestion of new research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, which showed strolls in the park can bring a number of psychological benefits.

Investigators from the University of Michigan, Stanford University and Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care's Rotman Research Institute in Toronto found activities of this kind can serve to boost memory performance to a greater degree than walking in busy urban centres.

Marc Berman, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Totonto-based facility, said that although the advantages of nature walks to those with clinical depression have been highlighted, this approach does not mean other tried-and-tested treatments - such as drug administration and psychotherapy - should be disposed of.

Mr Berman stated: "Walking in nature may act to supplement or enhance existing treatments for clinical depression, but more research is needed to understand just how effective nature walks can be."

Professor Stephen Palmer, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Just going for a walk or visiting an art gallery in your lunchtime has the ability to enhance well-being.

"I'm not particularly surprised that walking in nature can also uplift a person's mood and improve cognitive function better than an urban walk as the latter usually has more intrusive noises.

"For many people it is probably easier to become more mindful during a nature walk as it can distract us from the negative mental clutter we pay attention to in normal circumstances."

In a widely reported paper given at our Annual Conference in London last month, Mathew White presented the results of a study suggesting that spending time by the sea is particularly beneficial for our health and well-being.