Mental Wellbeing and Walking

Download our top tips guide for walking and talking about mental health

We know that walking with a Ramblers group benefits many people's wellbeing, and can be a lifeline for many people with mental health problems, so we are encouraging all our groups to have conversations about mental health on their walks during the first week of February.

Time to Talk Day 

Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet many people are still afraid to talk about it. Walking is a perfect way to start having a conversation with others and opening up.

Being physically active, connecting with nature and other people – the ingredients of a Ramblers group walk - are all things which have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.

That is why the Ramblers has teamed up with Time to Change – a campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness to end mental health stigma. Together, we are encouraging the nation to get walking and talking, beginning with Time to Talk Day on 7 February 2019.

We want to bring together the right ingredients to have a conversation about mental health. Whether that’s strolling through your local park with a friend or hiking up a hill with a new group, walking can benefit your wellbeing and get you talking.

We’d love to hear about your walks and the conversations you’ve had along the way. Tweet us photos to @RamblersGB and @TimetoChange, using #TimetoTalk and #walkandtalk.

Four people, dressed warmly, outdoors, laughing 

Want to start a conversation about mental health?

Mental health and loneliness  

At the Ramblers, we are bringing more people together across Britain who may feel lonely, isolated or are struggling with their mental health.

Loneliness can affect anyone, and it will vary throughout our lives. However, between 5% and 18% of adults in the UK are estimated to often or always feel lonely.  People who have poor health or experience a bereavement are at particular risk of experiencing loneliness.   

Being lonely is also a huge health risk. As well as negatively impacting mental health, it is linked to early death and increased risk of heart disease and strokes.  

Poor mental health and physical health go hand in hand. We all have mental health and need to look after it, but one in four people will experience a mental health problem each year. Many of us aren’t getting enough exercise, which is worrying because active people have a reduced risk of becoming depressed.  

How walking can help

We know people benefit physically, emotionally and mentally once they start to walk regularly outdoors. The Ramblers is committed to helping everyone find their feet to improve their mental health through walking and tackle loneliness in our communities. 

As well as being great for our physical health, walking also benefits our mental health:

  • Walking and talking come very naturally together and walking in a group can make us feel more connected to each other, reducing loneliness and isolation.
  • Walking can improve mood and sleep-quality, reduce stress and anxiety. 
  • Being in nature or in green spaces is shown to have a positive impact on mental health through being closer to greenery and being in a natural environment.

That’s why we want to get the nation walking and talking for Time to Talk Day and beyond. 

Three people, leading a group of walkers on a grass strip between hedges

David's story

"It’s nice that you can just walk, having other people there is good, even if you just walk along in companionable silence. You get a sense of when someone wants to talk and share, and you can choose to talk with different people during the walk." Read more.

A smiling young woman, outdoors surrounded by other people

Gina's story

“Walking with other people helped me to feel like myself again. I didn’t plan to make friends, but it came naturally. Once you keep going along on walks, you become absorbed into the group. It is difficult to open up, but you can start talking about mental health in your own way.” Read more.

A young woman standing close to a Cowal Way sign

Cat's story

“On and off since my early teens I have experienced mental health problems. I will probably always be in a state of recovery but walking and getting outdoors really helps lift my mood on my darkest days.” Read more.

Three people, wearing hiking backpacks, hugging

Walking and Talking about Mental Health

“In the summer of 2017 my brothers Orlando and Robin and I tackled one of the hardest conversations we’d ever had, about our brother Evelyn, who took his own life fourteen years ago aged just 22” Read about how Gwennie and her family faced their loss, through making the movie Evelyn.

Walking for Health

Walking for Health is England's largest network of free group health walk schemes. Run by Ramblers, we're helping all kinds of people lead a more active lifestyle in a friendly, supportive group. We offer over 1,800 free, short walks every week. 

Get support

If you are worried about someone or need support, you can find a list of contacts on the Time to Change website.