Mental health walks

What is up with mental health walks?

This week on Podparks, we’re uncovering the intricate relationships between parks and mental health, and learning how we can advocate for spaces that promote our wellbeing. We are joined by health professionals from around the world that are on a quest to create better environments for our physical and mental health.


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Mental health walks are no joke – they combine the stress regulating benefits of walking with the miraculous effect that being around nature brings to humans.

Dr. David Rojas, Epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at Colorado State University, discusses how being around green spaces and nature affects mental health outcomes, both by decreasing the risk of depression and anxiety, as well as by improving the treatment outcome of these illnesses.

Walking in green spaces has also proven to have more stress-regulating benefits than walking in urban environments. 

Dr. Kathleen Wolf, Environmental Psychologist and Researcher at the University of Washington, introduces environmental psychology and how this field is creating a better understanding of how our environment relates to our long-term mental health.

Current research underscores the importance of access to 20 to 30 minutes of green spaces per session for optimal health benefits, so providing equitable access to public green is becoming a larger concern for health professionals around the world. 

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase of anxiety and depression worldwide, but it also accelerated our understanding of parks and open spaces in relationship to mental health.

Dr. Catharine Ward Thompson, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh, explains some of the interactions that occurred during the pandemic – people who had no private green spaces saw parks as the only respite, and public spaces around the world were flocked with increasing numbers of visitors that have in many cases become regular.

This podcast is only one of the many resources available inside the WUP member platform. Discover more resources and connect with park professionals around the world at 

Dr. Jamie Hart, Environmental Epidemiologist and Associate Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shares the concerns and considerations of develiping equitable park investment strategies, including collecting appropriate and accurate information. Our guests finish by suggesting critical actions park managers can take to create parks that are beneficial to our mental health. 

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