Study: Walking near water can boost your mood

Hike these 5 beginner-friendly waterfall trails in North Georgia. Video produced by Fiza Pirani/AJC.

Short frequent walks along a lake or on a beach — or even rivers and fountains — can boost your mood and well-being, a new study out of Spain suggests.

The study, led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, a center supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation, analyzed data on 59 people.

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Over the course of a week, participants spent 20 minutes each day walking in a blue space. During a different week, they spent 20 minutes a day walking in an urban environment. During yet another week, they spent the same amount of time resting indoors. The blue space route was along a beach in Barcelona, while the urban route was along city streets. Before, during and after each walk, researchers measured the participants' blood pressure and heart rate, and used questionnaires to assess their well-being and mood.

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"We saw a significant improvement in the participants' well-being and mood immediately after they went for a walk in the blue space, compared with walking in an urban environment or resting," commented Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative at ISGlobal and coordinator of the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Research.

These results are in line with a British study last year.

Researchers from the University of Exeter analyzed survey data from nearly 26,000 respondents to see if coastal living helps individuals who suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

"Our research suggests, for the first time, that people in poorer households living close to the coast experience fewer symptoms of mental health disorders," said Jo Garrett, who led the study, which was published in the journal Health and Place.

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