Study Title:

Examining Group Walks in Nature and Multiple Aspects of Well-Being: A Large-Scale Study

Study Abstract

Purpose: Outdoor walking groups can facilitate interaction with nature, social interaction, and physical activity, yet little is known about their efficacy in promoting mental, emotional, and social well-being. National group walk programs are especially underevaluated for these outcomes. The present study sought to identify the mental, emotional, and social well-being benefits from participating in group walks in nature.

Design: Drawing on an evaluation of the Walking for Health program in England, a longitudinal study investigated the mental, emotional, and social well-being of individuals who did (Nature Group Walkers) and did not (Non-Group Walkers) attend group walks in nature. Both groups were statistically matched using propensity score matching (n=1,516). Between-group t tests and multiple regressions were performed to analyze the influence of nature-based group walks on depression, perceived stress, negative affect, positive affect, mental well-being, and social support.

Findings: Group walks in nature were associated with significantly lower depression, perceived stress, and negative affect, as well as enhanced positive affect and mental well-being, both before and after controlling for covariates. There were no group differences on social support. In addition, nature-based group walks appear to mitigate the effects of stressful life events on perceived stress and negative affect while synergizing with physical activity to improve positive affect and mental well-being.

Originality/Value: The present study identifies the mental and emotional well-being benefits from participation in group walks in nature and offers useful information about the potential health contribution of national outdoor group walk programs. Key Words: Group walks—Nature and health—Depression—Mental well-being—Emotional well-being—Social well-being—Walking.

Study Information

Examining Group Walks in Nature and Multiple Aspects of Well-Being: A Large-Scale Study
2014 September

Full Study