Researchers found that anything from a stroll in the park to a run through woodland can have a positive effect on people suffering from depression and anxiety.
The study also showed that the positive effect on people’s mental health was 50 per cent more than they might expect from going to the gym.
The researchers at Glasgow University looked at natural and non-natural environments for physical activity, including walking, running and cycling, and found that being around trees and grass lowered brain stress levels.
The study, led by Prof Richard Mitchell, polled nearly 2000 physically active people in the 2008 Scottish Health Survey.
Only activities carried out in a natural environment outdoors were found to be associated with a lower risk of poor mental health.