Santander Travel Award granted for innovative public health research

By Jan.25, 2016

A Santander Travel Award has been granted to Dr Melissa Marselle (University of Salford) to collaborate with Sara Warber, MD and Dr Brenda Gillespie at the University of Michigan (USA) to investigate the frequency and duration (or dose) of group walks in nature required for positive mental health.

Research has shown that interaction with natural environments can have positive mental health benefits, such as reduced stress, depression and improved happiness and concentration. Physical activity in nature – or green exercise – has shown to have greater psychological benefit than exercise indoors. Green exercise is a novel approach to healthcare prevention that could potentially save the NHS billions. GP prescriptions for green exercise are already the norm in New Zealand, and some part of Australia and the USA, and they’re becoming popular in the UK.

Group walks in nature are a popular pastime in the UK and a key way a GP can prescribe green exercise. Dr Marselle’s PhD evaluated the mental wellbeing benefits of individuals who take part in a national group walking scheme ­– Walking for Health. Dr Marselle said, “We know that people who participate in Walking for Health have better mental wellbeing, less stress and depression than people who do not take part in group walks. But we don’t know how long or how frequent nature group walks need to be to achieve positive wellbeing. Questions about dose are important for green exercise prescriptions.”

To find about more about the University’s partnership with Santander Universities please visit:

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