Going with the flow: Visiting rivers 'can help boost mood'

·1-min read

Viewing water or listening to waves undoubtedly has a calming effect.

However, researchers from King's College London, Nomad Projects and J & L Gibbons in partnership with the Canal & River Trust have reported that spending time by canals and rivers is linked to feeling happy and healthy.

"Canals and rivers contain not only water but also an abundance of trees and plants, which means their capacity to improve mental wellbeing is likely to be due to the multiple benefits associated with both green and blue spaces," explained Professor Andrea Mechelli. "Canals and rivers also provide homes to a range of wildlife, and we know from other research that there is a positive association between encountering wildlife and mental wellbeing.

"Taken collectively, these findings provide an evidence base for what we thought about water and wellbeing and support the proposal that visits to canals and rivers could become part of social prescribing schemes, playing a role in supporting mental health."

The researchers also found that people who spent time near water or rivers noted continued improvements in their mental wellbeing for up to 24 hours after the visit.

For the study, the team used Urban Mind, a smartphone-based app, to collect thousands of real-time audits about participants' location and mental wellbeing.

"Once the arteries of the Industrial Revolution, canals are today playing an equally important role in society as green corridors that bring nature into cities, improving community wellbeing and tackling health inequalities, as well as supporting jobs and local economies," added Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust. "The powerful mix of blue, green and wildlife-rich space shows that although built for industry, repurposed canals are actually amongst our most important places of health and wellbeing in our towns and cities."