We all know that regular walking is good for our physical health. It can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improve our lung capacity and may even reduce the pain and joint swelling that accompanies arthritis.

But did you know that recent studies have shown it can also be helpful for our mental health?

According to researchers in Scotland, something as simple as going for a brisk stroll could play an important role in fighting depression.

A study, in the journal of Mental Health and Physical Activity, showed that walking has a "large effect" on depression. Not only that, but it has the advantages of being easily undertaken by most people, incurring little or no financial cost and being relatively easy to incorporate into daily living.

Prof Adrian Taylor, who studies the effects of exercise on depression, addiction and stress at the University of Exeter, says, "The beauty of walking is that everybody does it."

He added: "There are benefits for a mental-health condition like depression."

The mental-health charity Mind said its own research found that spending time outdoors helped people's mental health.

Its chief executive, Paul Farmer, said: "To get the most from outdoor activities it's important to find a type of exercise you love and can stick at. Try different things, be it walking, cycling, gardening or even open-water swimming.

"Exercising with others can have even greater impact, as it provides an opportunity to strengthen social networks, talk through problems with others or simply laugh and enjoy a break from family and work. So ask a friend to join you."