Walking in the countryside boosts self-esteem, report finds

Exercising in a forest or woodland is beneficial to mental health, while walking in the countryside can help boost self-esteem, a recent study has found. 

Red yellow and green colorful leaves of UK autumn.

According to a survey by mental health charity Mind, 94% of respondents reported that spending time in green spaces for exercise or relaxation had a positive impact on their mental health.

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The Forestry Commission, working in partnership with Mind, have developed ‘Feel Good Autumn’, which aims to boost wellbeing with mindfulness tips, events and workshops and encouraged people to spend more time in forests in a bid to improve wellbeing.  

“Doing physical activity in the fresh air, be it walking or conservation work, is natural, free and accessible and it has been proven to boost mental wellbeing as well as improving physical health,” said Hayley Jarvis, Community Programmes Manager for Mind.

“Mind research found that after a single walk in the countryside, 90 per cent of participants had increased levels of self-esteem, with nearly three quarters reporting decreased levels of depression. We hope that ‘Feel Good Autumn’ will encourage more people to take up green exercise as a way of improving and maintaining mental wellbeing.”

Male hiker walking into the bright gold rays of light in the autumn forest, landscape shot with amazing dramatic lighting mood
90 per cent of those surveyed said that spending time in forests had increased levels of self-esteem ©Getty

“The nation’s woods and forests are the perfect place to enjoy a gentle walk, get back on your bike, or just take in the wonderful scenery and spend some time in nature,” added Recreation Manager for the Forestry Commission Bridgette Hall.

“Feel Good Autumn is about giving everyone the opportunity to feel the health benefits from time in the forest, through new walking trails, guided cycling, mindful activities and woodland workshops.”

Feel Good Autumn

This autumn, the Forestry Commission and Mind are promoting a range of events throughout the country, from yoga and zombie runs to green woodworking and gentle cycling routes.

An autumnal landscape in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England.
Autumn shines in the Forest of Dean ©Getty

Top eight feel-good events this autumn

Yoga in the Forest, Haldon Forest

Dry stone walling workshops, Dalby Forest

Buggy couch to 5k, Haldon Forest

Chair Making Course, Westonbirt Arboretum

Nordic Walking, Forest of Dean

Zombie run, Delamere Forest

Buggyfit, Whinlatter Forest

Electric bike demo days, Thetford Forest

For more events across England, head over to the Forestry Commission’s Autumn in the forests webpage. 

To learn more about the benefits of spending time in forests, read our article: why everyone can benefit from heading into the woods

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Main image: Getty