It’s long been known that regular exercise is a mood enhancer that can help reduce stress, but a recent study from Stanford University shows that walking, specifically in a natural environment, can greatly decrease your chances of developing depression. The research, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, demonstrates that being able to access natural areas is crucial to stable mental health.
The study consisted of two different groups of people walking for 90 minutes a day. One group walked in a grassland with trees, and the other group walked on a busy four-lane roadway. After their walk, researchers performed brain scans (among other tests) that measured the activity in the part of the brain where negative thoughts form. The group that walked in the more natural environment had far less brain activity than the group that walked through the city.
The conclusion? Walking in nature can reduce negative thinking. This study is important because it casually links over-urbanization with increased rates of mental illness. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the sunshine and some of the world’s natural beauty.
Heading on a hike? Make sure to wear supportive tennis shoes.
Do you spend lots of time in nature? How does it affect your mood?