Researchers have extensively documented the physical and psychological benefits of nature walks. The benefits of walking in urban environments are less studied.
A new study from the United Kingdom found that walking in cities can evoke positive emotions and alleviate stress, anxiety, and overstimulation.
The study followed fourteen residents of Bristol, England on walks in the city center, where they were instructed to photograph surroundings that drew their attention or made them feel good or bad. Participants then discussed their journey utilizing the photographs as a way to illustrate areas of interest and were then interviewed by researchers about their well-being and perceptions of the environment.
What’s key: While the research team found that walking itself was beneficial to participants’ sense of well-being, symbolic or lively streetscapes contributed to an individual’s feelings of connectedness. This aspect of city walks – the potential to develop people’s sense of place – might be a psychological benefit unique to cities.
Photo by Antonio Olivia.