This study has assessed the effects of a walking intervention in Barcelona, finding a significant improvement in wellbeing and mood for those walking through blue spaces.
Using a randomized crossover design, participants acted as their own controls. A sample of 59 healthy adult office workers took part.
Each respondent was randomly assigned to a different environment on 4 days each week, for 3 weeks. For 20 minutes per day, they walked along either a blue or an urban route, or rested at a control site.
Before, during and after the exposure, researchers measured self-reported wellbeing and mood, blood pressure, and heart rate variability. For wellbeing, the duration of these potential effects over time was assessed for up to 4 hours after exposure.
Results demonstrate significantly improved wellbeing and mood responses immediately after walking in the blue space compared with walking in the urban space or when resting in the control site.
Cardiovascular responses showed increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system, both during and after walking along the blue and urban spaces. However, cardiovascular responses measured after the walks, showed no statistically significant differences between the blue and the urban space environments.
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.