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Mental health benefits of running

Mental health benefits of running in the forest

Getting our heart rates up outdoors does nothing but good things for the brain.

A recent study by the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health found that those who exercise in a natural environment cut the risk of suffering from poor mental health by 50%!

Being around trees and grass is proven to generate greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positivity, and fewer feelings of confusion, anger and depression – making you much more likely to want to return to the forest to exercise and enjoy those good vibes.

Meditation Exercise

Take a break and find a quiet spot to sit like a bench or grassy area. Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths — inhaling with your nose and exhaling from your mouth.

Empty your mind and focus solely on each breath. You will start to feel calmer and more relaxed. If you find your attention straying away from your breaths, just gently bring it back. This may happen a lot at first!

Whenever you feel ready, bring your attention back to the forest, stand and stretch and carry on running!


In Japan, Shinrin-yoku is a term that means "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing" and it is prescribed as a medical remedy for sleeplessness and depression – and it really works!

Last updated: 10th October 2017

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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.