Walks in urban blue spaces boost wellbeing

Posted on: 6 July 2020 | By: Alex Smalley

New BlueHealth research has found that short walks in urban blue spaces can benefit both wellbeing and mood.

Published in the journal Environmental Research, the study used data from 59 healthy office workers in Barcelona, Spain.

Participants spent 20 minutes per day walking through either a blue space or urban environment, or simply sitting in a room at work. The blue space route took participants along Barcelona’s seafront and out to the breakwater in front of Somorrostro beach.

The research team found that walking this route increased people’s mood and wellbeing, compared with both the urban walk or staying at work.

Contrary to predictions however, they found no evidence for changes in the physiological markers of stress and relaxation.


Palm trees and a concrete walk way on Barcelona's seafront

The Barcelona seafront participants walked along.


Cristina Vert, lead researcher on the study, said:

Our findings demonstrate that spending short but regular amounts of time in blue spaces can improve psychological health. As urbanisation continues to grow across the world, we hope that studies like this will help city planners keep populations healthy and happy.”

Most previous studies have only assessed people’s wellbeing at single points in time. By following participant responses over several weeks, the study marks a significant advance in understanding how natural environments can impact health.

The published paper’s full title is Physical and mental health effects of repeated short walks in a blue space environment: a randomised crossover study.

You can read it in full here.