Depression and poor acceptance of one's body are counteracted with a walk in nature. And be careful, winter is not the excuse not to go out because, together with green fields, trees and blue seas, snowy landscapes have also been shown to bring important benefits in terms of mood and self-esteem. This emerges from two very recent scientific researches. The first study was published in JAMA Psychiatry by an English team from the University of Cambridge (Pearce et al, JAMA Psychiatry, 2022), the second in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health by a Polish team (Czepczor Brenat et al, Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 2022).
A brisk walk reduces the risk of depression, the study
The first research analyzed the results of previous studies, involving a total of nearly 200,000 volunteers, all adults over 18 years. The aim was to evaluate how lifestyle, and in particular physical activity, can influence mood and counteract depression. What has emerged is that practicing moderate physical activity on a regular basis leads to a significant reduction in the risk of developing depression. In particular, two and a half hours of brisk walking a week are able to reduce the risk of depression by 25% compared to those who are sedentary. Instead, walking briskly for an hour and a quarter a week helps reduce the risk of being diagnosed with depression by 18%, compared to those who do not practice any physical activity. Moderate physical activity practiced for more than two and a half hours a week has only added minor benefits, proving that to feel good, in body and mind, you don't need to be a great athlete. In addition to brisk walking, other examples of physical activity that can help us fight depression are cycling, swimming or going for a light jog.
Not only blue and green, even the white of winter is good for the mood
And if the excuse for not moving is that winter, the snow and the cold can have a deleterious effect on mood, you need to change your mind. The second study in fact analyzed the benefits that a walk of only 40 minutes in a snowy forest has on mood and self-esteem. Until now, the relaxing and soothing effects of a walk in a snowless forest or in a park, where the color green prevails, or on the beach, in contact with the blue expanse of the sea, were well known. Instead, thanks to the research we are talking about today, which was carried out by studying a sample of 87 women, all aged between 19 and 55, we now know that even winter with its snowy landscapes can increase self-esteem and improve the perception of one's own body. In fact, even this magical and fascinating natural landscape has the power to drive away obsessive thoughts, divert attention to some aesthetic characteristics that we consider defects and focus it instead on how our body moves, leading us to appreciate it more.
Here is proof that an active lifestyle brings benefits to mood, counteracting depression and also improving our self-esteem and ability to accept our body, which in turn brings greater serenity and counteracts anxiety. Walking at a brisk pace, strolling uphill and downhill, going for a jog or riding a bicycle improve our way of being with ourselves. And this can be done in every season, not only when the bright colors of spring prevail, even a beautiful snowy landscape does its duty when it comes to driving away thoughts and worries and increasing self-esteem.