Nordic Walkers love being outdoors and their wellbeing benefits February 06 2020
Spending time outdoors is known to be positively associated with higher levels of psychological wellbeing so it is no surprise that recent research by Loughborough University into the benefits of Nordic Walking found that the opportunity to be outside was ranked highest of the perceived benefits of participating in Nordic Walking.
Perceived benefits of Nordic Walking
Spending time outdoors 78.1%
Increased fitness 65.4%
Social benefits 62.5%
Improved health 61.6%
Enhanced mental wellbeing 59.6%
Management of weight 50.1%
Frequency of taking part in Nordic Walking
Participants who engaged in Nordic Walking more frequently were more likely to perceive benefits of taking part.
Nature relatedness was clearly associated with wellbeing. Nature relatedness refers to the degree to which individuals feel affiliated to the natural world. There is consistent evidence that exposure to natural environments is independently associated with wellbeing and that outdoor physical activity has additional psychological benefit over exercising indoors. Nordic Walking provides opportunities to combine physical activity with time outside and for those with a strong affiliation for nature this may promote greater wellbeing.
A recent study of 20,000 adults in England, where the BBC teamed up with the Universities of Edinburgh and Exeter, suggested that 120 mins might be sufficient for time spent in nature, if a person is to experience significant health improvements. Whilst this study deliberately asked participants not to undertake an exercise but to simply sit, relax or walk gently, our study indicates that time outdoors is a valuable aspect of Nordic Walking and shows an association with wellbeing. 120 minutes is just a couple of Nordic Walking sessions a week where you can get the combined benefits of activity and the outdoors.
Interestingly, the weather did not make a difference to participants in the BBC study which echoes the Nordic Walkers experience – just 18% cited the weather as a barrier to Nordic Walking.
Perceived barriers to Nordic Walking
Limited time 21.9%
Health problems 19.7%