Effectiveness of mindful walking intervention in nature on sleep quality and mood among university student during Covid-19: A randomised control study

Author: Jingni Ma1, Joanne Williams2, Paul Graham Morris3, Professor Stella W Y Chan4
1 School of Health in Social Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, UK. Electronic address: s1608391@ed.ac.uk.
2 Room 2.4, Doorway 6, Medical Quad, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, UK.
3 Medical Quad, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, UK.
4 Charlie Waller Chair in Evidence-based Psychological Treatment, School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6ES, UK.
Conference/Journal: Explore (NY)
Date published: 2022 Aug 11
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2022.08.004. , Word Count: 234

The aim of this project was to conduct a randomised control study to examine whether outdoor mindful walking in nature can effectively improve university students' sleep quality, mood, and mindfulness during the lockdown of Covid-19 pandemic in the U.K.

Participants were measured at T0 (pre-study baseline), T1 (pre-intervention), T2 (post-intervention), and T3 (follow-up). A total of 104 participants (female = 94) who were experiencing sleep difficulties were randomly allocated to either an experimental (i.e., nature) or control (i.e., urban) walking environments. Participants in each walking condition independently undertook a daily 35-minute walk for a week (7 days). Subjective sleep quality, total mood disturbance, mindfulness, and degree of nature, and participants' perspectives and suggestions about the intervention, were collected.

Findings suggest that both groups exhibited significant improvements on participant's trait mindfulness, sleep quality and mood after the intervention. However, mindful walking in nature did not bring additional mental health benefits to participants than those who walked in urban environment. Participants reflected their perspectives about the intervention, which will assist with further intervention development.

Findings contribute to the evidence base for the effectiveness of outdoor mindful walking interventions on mental health. Especially these findings add new knowledge of how mindful walking outdoors reduces university students' mood disturbances and improves their sleep quality and mindfulness level during the pandemic.

Keywords: Covid-19; Mindful walking intervention; Nature; RCT; Sleep quality; University students.

PMID: 35973933 DOI: 10.1016/j.explore.2022.08.004