One study found that walking in natural environments boosts well-being by reducing obsessive, negative thoughts. Physical activity like a brisk walk stimulates the release of body chemicals called endorphins, which act as natural pain killers, reduce stress and produce feelings of wellbeing.
Fight stress and depression
Leisurely forest walks, compared with urban walks, yield a 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a seven percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a 5.8 percent decrease in heart rate. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed.
A Healthy Brain
When people walk, the pressure of making impact with the ground sends waves through the arteries, which increases blood flow to the brain. Getting enough blood to the brain is important for healthy brain function, since blood flow brings the brain oxygen and nutrients.
Our government's health experts NICE recognise that walking can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes. So why aren't more GPs prescribing a walk in the woods?
Recovery and immunity
In one famous 1980s study of post-op patients in a Pennsylvania hospital, those whose rooms had a view of trees recovered more quickly than those looking out at another building.
A Japanese immunologist showed that hiking in the forest – and even a one day trip to a suburban park – boosts natural killer immune cells and anti-cancer proteins for at least seven days afterwards.
Get your essential vitamin D
Exposure to sunlight outdoors is how we get Vitamin D. Many of us just don't get enough and that puts us at risk of osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. You'll get plenty of sunlight on a woodland walk, as long as you don't spend all your time in sitting in the shade!