Cycling or walking is the new fitness mantra! One, who has already planned out a fitness routine, should now add cycling or walking to the same. A new study has revealed that people who walk or cycle through natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less. People who commute through walking or cycling amidst natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less, the study suggests.
As per the study reports, the natural environment includes all public and private outdoor spaces that contain 'green' or 'blue' natural elements such as street trees, forests, city parks and natural parks/reserves and all types of water bodies.
"Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with life in urban environments. The urban design could be a powerful tool to confront these challenges and create healthier cities. One way of doing so would be investing in natural commuting routes for cycling and walking," said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the University of Barcelona.
For the study, published in the journal, Environment International, the research team examined nearly 3,600 participants who answered a questionnaire about their commuting habits and their mental health.
The findings revealed that respondents commuting through natural environments on a daily basis had on average a 2.74 point higher mental health score compared to those who commuted through natural environments less frequently.
This association was even stronger among people who reported active commuting, the team said. From previous experimental studies, we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments," said first author Wilma Zijlema from the varsity.
"Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health," the author added.
Cycling or walking will enable people to revisit nature and stay grounded to nature despite the hectic lifestyle of people. Here comes the good news for fitness freaks who want to look fit along with enjoying the beauty of nature.