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Growing Resilience through Interaction with Nature: Can Group Walks in Nature Buffer the Effects of Stressful Life Events on Mental Health?

1
Department of Ecosystem Services, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research—UFZ, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
2
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
3
Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA
4
European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter School of Medicine, Truro TR1 3HD, UK
5
Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences, The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(6), 986; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16060986
Received: 7 December 2018 / Revised: 11 March 2019 / Accepted: 13 March 2019 / Published: 19 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Therapies and Human Health)
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Abstract

Nature-based activities have been used as therapeutic interventions for those experiencing stress and mental ill health. This study investigates whether group walks could be a nature-based intervention to foster resilience, by buffering the effects of recent stressful life events on mental health. An observational research design with propensity score-matched samples compared the mental health of individuals who did (Nature Group Walkers, n = 1081) or did not (Non-Group Walkers, n = 435) attend nature group walks. A sub-sample of Frequent Nature Group Walkers (at least once per week, n = 631) was also investigated. Data were analyzed using multiple regression with an interaction term. All analyses were controlled for age, gender, and recent physical activity. Results showed that neither nature group walking, nor doing this frequently, moderated the effects of stressful life events on mental health. Using a main effects model, the positive associations of group walks in nature were at a greater magnitude than the negative associations of stressful life events on depression, positive affect, and mental well-being, suggesting an ‘undoing’ effect of nature group walks. Group walking schemes in natural environments may be an important public health promotion intervention for mental health. View Full-Text
Keywords: stress buffering; moderation; depression; nature walks; health promotion stress buffering; moderation; depression; nature walks; health promotion
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Marselle, M.R.; Warber, S.L.; Irvine, K.N. Growing Resilience through Interaction with Nature: Can Group Walks in Nature Buffer the Effects of Stressful Life Events on Mental Health? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 986.

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