There’s now a growing body of research showing that group walks in nature have remarkable mental health benefits including easing depression, combating stress and boosting mental well-being. For some sufferers of depression, medication is still required to get them out of bed. But once up, a hike with friends can be the best medicine to support their recovery.
An expansive study, by the University of Michigan (USA) and Edge Hill University (UK), confirms that walking in nature with your friends really does improve your mental health. Authors of the study recommend walking outside in nature at least three times a week to experience benefits. They concluded that “group walks in nature were associated with significantly less depression, perceived stress, and negative affect and greater positive affect and mental well-being.”
“Given the increase in mental ill-health and physical inactivity in the population in the developed world, group walk programs in local natural environments may make a potentially important contribution to both public health and individual well-being with benefits in mental health, coping with stress, and improved emotions.” Ecopsychology Volume: 6 Issue 3: September 19, 2014
Mental health is definitely the most overlooked type of health when it comes to activities like hiking. Usually, we just see the obvious physical health benefits, which are equally important (especially if you can’t stand the gym). There are so many different difficulty levels when it comes to trails as well, so don’t feel like you have to have n extreme level of fitness to get started.
Hiking in the Northern Rivers
The natural beauty of the Northern Rivers needs n introduction to most readers. Home to some of the best waterfalls, beaches and bushwalks in the world. Some of the most notable national parks in our region are…
1. Border Ranges National Park
2. Nightcap National Park and Whine State Conservation Area
3. Mt Warning National Park
4. Richmond Range National Park
5. Cape Byron State Conservation Area
6. Toonumbar National Park
7. Koreelah National Park
8. More Park Nature Reserve
9. Broken Head Nature Reserve
10. Bundjalung National Park
You can view a detailed guide of each of these parks here.
Northern Rivers Bushwalkers Club
If you’re looking for an outdoor activity to do but are stuck for someone to do it with – www.northernriversbushwalkersclub.org.au are a group that organise regular activities like cycling, kayaking and bushwalking all around the Northern Rivers. Their website has a list of their upcoming events.