Walking and Mental Health

Everyone knows how a good walk can help you collect your thoughts, especially at stressful times – but there’s more to it than that. Walking improves your overall well-being, and helps fight depression. Even just being in the outdoors in green natural spaces is beneficial to your mental health. And walking can even help you make new friends.

  • Walking, like other physical activities, releases endorphins which improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Regular walking improves sleep patterns.
  • Active people have a reduced risk of suffering clinical depression.
  • Regular physical activity is at least as effective as antidepressant drugs in treating mild and moderate depression – and has positive rather than negative side effects.
  • Exploring your neighbourhood on foot makes you feel more at home there and makes you more likely to talk to neighbours and make friends.
  • Walking in a group is a sociable activity that can help improve mental health and overcome feelings of isolation.
  • Spending time in the outdoors and in contact with the natural environment – for example by walking in parks, woodland and green spaces – can have a positive effect on mental health.
  • Feeling fitter and controlling weight helps improve your body image and confidence.

Walking improves your mental health. For more information about the benefits of physical activity on mental health visit Mind or the Scottish Association for Mental Health websites.


The aim of the plan is to get you walking briskly for at least half an hour on at least five days of the week.