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

Explore (NY). 2023 May-Jun;19(3):405-416. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2022.08.004. Epub 2022 Aug 11.


Objective: 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 Covid-19 pandemic in the U.K.

Methods: 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 environment. 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 connectedness, and participants' perspectives on the intervention, were collected.

Results: Findings suggest that both groups resulted in significant improvements in participants' trait mindfulness, sleep quality and mood after the intervention. However, mindful walking in nature did not bring additional mental health benefits to participants relative to those who walked an urban environment. Participants provided their perspectives about the intervention, which will assist with future intervention development.

Conclusions: Findings contribute to the evidence-base on the effectiveness of outdoor mindful walking interventions for enhancing mental health. These findings contribute new knowledge on how mindful walking outdoors reduces university students' mood disturbances and improves sleep quality and mindfulness level.

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

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness* / methods
  • Pandemics
  • Sleep Quality
  • Students / psychology
  • Universities
  • Walking