Exercise has always been something of a prescription I took for mood, myself, so I can speak with years of experience to its efficacy in that capacity. Also,I recognized early on my ability to get more out of this treatment when I was able to take it outdoors. Over the years the invitation of friends and rainy weather would occasionally cause me to take my running indoors for a time. But once there, I discovered I lost half of the luster of my activity! I had also slowly developed a way of meditating while I ran and that turned out to be completely impossible for me in a gym. I finally took my running back outside and stayed there, even in the pouring rain. In fact rainy days became one of my favorite times to run, when I could see (few) others in Golden Gate Park, soaked to the skin, grinning at me with our shared knowledge and silliness.
Well, recently I read that Mind, a mental health resource bank, did a study on exactly this topic and their results were astonishing to me, and then they weren’t…of course.
“Mind launches new green agenda for mental health
71 per cent report depression decrease after green walk,
22 per cent report depression increase after urban walk in mall
Leading mental health charity Mind today launches a groundbreaking new report which sets a new green agenda for mental health. With a mass of new and growing evidence, Mind calls for Ecotherapy to be recognised as a clinically-valid frontline treatment for mental health problems. As 93 per cent of GPs have prescribed drugs due to a lack of alternatives and access to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy takes up to four years in some areas of the UK, it is vital that Ecotherapy is considered by GPs alongside these as a treatment option.”
Ecotherapy involves getting outdoors and getting active in a green environment as a way of boosting mental wellbeing. Whether it’s taking regular walks in the park, flying a kite or participating in a gardening therapy project, green exercise is proven to have huge benefits for mental health. The prescription of care farms as a treatment for mental distress has been highly successful on the continent but the UK is lagging far behind Europe – there are only 43 care farms in the UK, none of which are directed at mental health, compared to 600 in the Netherlands and 400 in Norway.”
Here’s the link in case you would like to browse the entire study.