Enjoying nature and the great outdoors is one of the best things that we can do for our mental health. During the course of last year or so, millions of people across the UK have turned to nature as a key coping mechanism. Whether that be going on walks around local parks and nature reserves, spending more time in gardens and allotments, or watching wildlife webcam streams - which are incredibly addictive!

Nature is a brilliant, free resource which we can use to aid our mental health. As cities and towns have grown, our connection to nature has shrunk - but as the restrictions with the Covid-19 pandemic were brought in, many people have reconnected with nature and started to realise the benefits associated with spending time outdoors. 

Indeed, physical activity outdoors, and particularly walking and cycling, have massively increased in popularity over the last year. In fact, it is thought that the number of people walking and cycling has increased by 39% and 38% respectively.[1]

In recent times, the NHS have launched a number of green initiatives to try and encourage people to engage more in their local green spaces. In the last year, the Green Health Routes have been used extensively as people explored their surroundings and engaged more in nature within their local area. In addition, the NHS Forest campaign, which focuses on planting trees and preserving and encouraging the use of local green spaces, has shown that the proven benefits of engaging in nature include greater social cohesion, accelerated patient recovery, and better community health.[2]

Much like our partners at the NHS, Sport in Mind have also taken the opportunity over the last year to begin delivering sessions at our allotments in Reading and Newbury, as well as mindfulness & wellbeing walks across Berkshire and Oxfordshire which help our attendees to realise the therapeutic qualities of being outdoors - and connect more with nature. Below is a picture of one of the South Hill Park turtles, spotted at one of our wellbeing walks in Bracknell! 

We all know that exercise can have huge benefits for our mental health - but did you know that where we exercise matters too? Research has shown that spending time in green spaces for just 2 hours a week can have massive benefits for mental wellbeing, and our physical health.[3] In addition, exercising whilst engaging with nature can help us to reduce stress, increase vitamin D levels, and save money![4] So, next time you are planning on exercising - ditch the treadmill and head out into the great outdoors! 


[1] - https://roadsafetygb.org.uk/news/figures-show-substantial-rise-in-walking-and-cycling-during-covid-19/ 

[2] - https://nhsforest.org/evidence-benefits#Accelerated%20patient%20recovery 

[3] - https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3 

[4] - https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2019/01/the-benefits-of-exercising-in-nature/