Almost 600 subjects with mean age of 22 years participated in this study that compared the psychological benefits of brief walks through forested areas versus through city streets.

Result: Walking through forested areas decreased the negative moods of depression, anxiety, anger, fatigue, and even confusion, better than walking through city areas. The benefits were even greater for those with pre-existing higher anxiety levels.

Clinical Relevance:

Patient:  Which one is better, walking outdoors or on the treadmill?

PT: All walking is beneficial… which one do YOU prefer and which one are you more likely to do on a regular basis?

Patient: I have a treadmill at home and I sometimes use it but I also like walking outdoors.

PT: How about you do both? Variety is the spice of life. Sometimes walk on the treadmill flat, sometimes incline it. You may even walk backwards on the treadmill for a few minutes. If you walk outdoors, sometimes walk in your neighbourhood streets other times walk in a park and in nature. Studies show that nature walking is actually quite beneficial for our mood and mental health.

Patient: How long should I walk for?

PT: The minimum recommendation is 150 minutes per week, which is 30 minutes, 5 times a week.

Patient: What if I can’t walk for 30 minutes?

PT: Even 1 minute of walking is beneficial; don’t worry about the time, but that you do some walking EVERY DAY!

Reference: Song C et al Psychological Benefits of Walking through Forest Areas. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Dec 10;15(12).
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