Taking a stroll in green spaces improves mental health and manages work-related stress, suggested a new study.
The study, published in the journal Public Health in Practice, also indicated that people with strong "sense of coherence" (SOC) have greater resilience to stress.
"Our study suggests that taking a walk at least once a week in a forest or green space can help people have stronger SOC," said the researcher, Shinichiro Sasahara, Professor at the University of Tsukuba in Japan.
SOC comprises the triad of meaningfulness (finding a sense of meaning in life), comprehensibility (recognising and understanding stress), and manageability (feeling equipped to deal with stress).
The study used survey data on more than 6,000 workers between 20 and 60 years old. It found stronger SOC among people who regularly took walks in forests or green spaces.
The researchers divided the survey respondents into four groups based on their frequency of forest/green space walking. Then, they compared their walking activity against attributes such as age, income, and marital status, and with the respondents' SOC scores, which were grouped as weak, middle, and strong.
Those with strong SOC showed a significant correlation with both forest and green space walking at least once a week. This key finding implies the greater benefits of urban greening--not just environmental, but also socioeconomic.
"SOC indicates mental capacities for realising and dealing with stress," Sasahara said.
"With workplace stress as a focal issue, there's a clear benefit in identifying everyday activities that raise SOC. It seems we may have found one," the researcher added.