Thursday, May 24

Walking and Mental Health

I spotted this BBC report a few weeks ago, but not had the chance to comment on it until now.

But I'm taking a few minutes break here, being busy presently playing silly sods on an Outdoors Magic thread (find it yourself nosey!) with a man who exhibits little discernible awareness of the outdoors community. Well able to expound certain unassailable views. All his own. All absolutely correct. Naturally. Hmm.

Competitive bullshit has no place on the hills. Taken to it's extreme it can kill the unwary. And normally OM is the same. A little teasing but in this particular case I'm not sure the party concerned gets it. But in this case it's just so easy to generally waste his time.

But I'm getting sidetracked. Back to mental health.

I've found the benefits of walking outdoors essential in my quest to stay sane in a sometimes insane society. I fit into the woodwork, but a bit like the Stainless Steel Rat at times.

"..we must be as stealthy as rats in the wainscoting of their that society is all ferrocrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps in the joints. It takes a very smart rat indeed to find these openings. Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment..."

During periods of high pressure/stress or just downright disgust at some aspects of modern life I especially take myself outdoors and walk it off. To get back to the real things in life.

Hence my deep appreciation of the hills and what they mean to me per se. Not the peak bagging others enjoy; Nor the endurance marches some expound. Just a movement across the land, and becoming once more at one with it. As far as I feel able. Sometimes I will merely sit on a ridge and watch the clouds pass by as their shadows pattern the hillside, for 2 or 3 hours at a time.

(BTW I'm not sat there cross legged meditating on the meaning of life. It's more like getting up for a brew and smoke every so often. So let's not get too metaphysical here)

I've seen other reports before on the value of walking for depressive moods, so I dug into this one a little more, going back to the source material from the health charity Mind.
The fact I found most riveting (to quote from Mind's report):
"A walk in a country park was compared with a walk in an indoor shopping centre
  • 71 per cent reported decreased levels of depression after the green walk
  • 22 per cent felt their depression increased after walking through an indoor shopping centre
  • 71 per cent said they felt less tense after the green walk
  • 50 per cent said their feelings of tension had increased after the shopping centre walk
  • 90 per cent had increased self-esteem after the country walk
  • 44 per cent said their self-esteem decreased after window shopping in the shopping centre"
So its not the walking per se (though it helps) but the location that has value.

Get outdoors. Soon. And go somewhere green.

Me. I'm back off to OM again with a long poking stick. Will I have to go to the naughty step eventually nurse?


Did you spot a gender split between those who get something out of going shopping?

Or is it more complex than that, eg a rural/urban split?
no gender, just rural/urban

The reports worth reading in full, even if it is a bit overdone with the stats to prove a quite simple point
Great blog John, subject close to my heart. Well done.
There's quite a few of us know the special quality an outdoor venture adds to our lives. And why. Shared experiences
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