Examining group walks in nature and multiple aspects of well-being: A large-scale study

Marselle, MR, Irvine, KN and Warber, SL 2014, 'Examining group walks in nature and multiple aspects of well-being: A large-scale study' , Ecopsychology, 6 (3) , pp. 134-147.

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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 under-evaluated 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.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Health and Wellbeing
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Journal or Publication Title: Ecopsychology
Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
Funders: De Montfort University PhD studentship
Depositing User: Dr Melissa Marselle
Date Deposited: 21 May 2015 13:21
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 23:17
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/34880

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