Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Running and wellbeing

Posted: May 10, 2023 at 09:57 am Author: Libby Morris

Trail running is a simple and proven way to improve your mental health and wellbeing. But what exactly are the benefits, and how can we incorporate green spaces into our daily dose of exercise?

In 2003, researchers at the University of Essex coined the term ‘green exercise’ – adopting physical activity while at the same time being directly exposed to nature. Their research has shown that the benefits of green exercise include mental wellbeing, social inclusion, and a connection to nature. There’s also evidence to suggest that running in a natural environment instead of a built environment, like a city, can have a beneficial impact on our response to stress.


Similarly, a pilot study in Cornwall testing the effects of a weekly dose of oceans, forests, or other natural environments on patients suffering from depression found a 69% increase in mental wellbeing in just three months.

So what’s not to love? Here are some ideas of how to combine running with spending time in nature:

  • Challenge yourself to run in four different natural environments each month
  • Run around one of Westonbirt’s orienteering trails with your family
  • Join a local parkrun
  • Race your children to the top of a hill
  • Take your dog for a run along the beach

If you have more ideas, share them with your friends and family and let’s all feel the benefits of running in nature.

Need some tips? Check out our training guide...

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