Is a pill the only answer? The benefits of walking in nature

Wild Women on Top Sydney Coastrek Patron, Julie McCrossin, who has courageously revealed her battle with post cancer depression, says walking with women in nature has transformed her life.

Julie survived the nightmare of the excruciatingly painful cancer treatment only to be hit by the debilitating effects of this mental illness in her recovery. Now she walks with women in nature to help manage the illness.

“Walking in wild places with wild women saved my mental and spiritual health after the shocking trauma of the gruelling treatment for stage four throat cancer. My preparation for Coastrek 2015 is nurturing that on-going recovery," Julie said.

Julie is one of nearly 2 million Australians who suffer from anxiety or depression. Every year, around ten per cent of Australians are affected by a depressive illness while Beyond Blue reports that 18 million scripts are written for anti-depressants.

Coinciding with Mental Health Month in October, ground breaking new research shows that group walks in nature have remarkable mental health benefits including easing depression, combating stress and boosting mental well-being.
However, for some sufferers, medication may still be required to get them out of bed. Once up, a walk will work wonders.

The expansive study, released last week by the University of Michigan (USA) and Edge Hill University (UK), provides a significant boost to the voice of physical educators, exercise physiologists, fitness trainers and health experts who struggle to gain media traction against the powerful forces of pharmaceutical companies. 

These benefits have also been experienced by thousands of Sydney Coastrekkers in the past 5 years, some of whom have used the 55km hike and training walks specifically to reduce their reliance on drugs. Coastrekkers routinely describe feelings ranging from happiness and fulfilment to elation.

Coastrek Director, Lisa Marshall, believes events like Sydney Coastrek have the power to literally transform people’s lives.

Lisa says walking with women in nature makes us happier; it is invigorating, energising and healthy. Now science proves it is absolutely essential to our wellbeing. Walking in nature also helps to control depression; improves physical performance, immunity and memory; reduces anxiety; helps battle colds and flu; speeds recovery time after sickness; protects against cancer and its fun!

Our ancestors knew it; 70,000 “Walk for Health” walkers in the UK know it; 7,000 Sydney Coastrekkers know it; and Wild Women know it – and now science has proven it: group walks in nature can be better than Prozac; with NO bad side effects, except when we get lost. J

One Prozac user I spoke to, who preferred not to be named, said, “Last week I reached for my meds, and paused. ‘Let’s go for a walk along the beach’, I said to my 12 year old son. So we did. And it worked.”

Authors of the study recommend walking outside in nature at least three times a week to experience benefits.  They concluded that “group walks in nature were associated with significantly less depression, perceived stress, and negative affect and greater positive affect and mental well-being.”

“Given the increase in mental ill health and physical inactivity in the population in the developed world, group walk programs in local natural environments may make a potentially important contribution to both public health and individual well-being with benefits in mental health, coping with stress, and improved emotions.”

To see the beneficial effects of group walks in nature, check out this video on the 55km team challenge for Sydney Coastrek 2015.

And to participate in the wonder drug of group walks in nature, register now at


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