A quick walk—even as short as 20 minutes—can shift your mood and help you combat depression.

It's been long understood that stepping outside and getting fresh air can do your body and mind some good. If you happen to live near a beach, taking a leisurely—and socially-distanced—walk every now and again could actually help your mental well-being, too, Metro reports. A study out of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) notes that green spaces—like parks, forests, and anywhere outdoors with greenery—serve as all-natural spots that can boost one's physical and mental condition. The new study also finds that blue spaces—like beaches, lakes, and rivers—offer the same positive impact on your health.

senior couple walking by the seashore
Credit: Getty / kate_sept2004

Researchers associated with the study discovered that a walk as short as 20 minutes can shift your mood into a happier state and help combat depression. To come to this understanding, they studied 60 participants before, during, and after taking 20 minutes each day to get moving around Barcelona or just rest in their homes for three weeks. After one week, the volunteers walked around Barcelona's beach, the second week the participants walked in the landlocked streets, and the third week everyone solely spent 20 minutes resting at home.

In addition to going through the form of testing over the three-week period, the researchers also measured participants' blood pressure, heart rate, and gave them a questionnaire to fill out that went over their moods and emotions during the time. The result? The walks by the beach didn't necessarily show any heart-related benefits, but the volunteers noticed improved moods and strengthened mental health.

While there are still more tests that can further determine the greater health benefits related to walking on the beach, lead author of the study and doctoral student Cristina Vert of ISGlobal shares that taking a break from city life can still make a big emotional change in people's everyday lives. "Our results show that the psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the type of environment where it is carried out, and that blue spaces are better than urban spaces in this regard," she said.


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