As children we were always told to go out and play so that we could use our imagination and get some exercise in. While our parents told us these things to most likely just get us out of the house, they actually turned out to be more factual than we would have ever guessed. If you feel like your brain needs to get retooled then a walk through the park could be just up your alley. We pulled together 12 incredible ways that a simple walk through nature can dramatically alter your brain, your body, and your life.
Your stress levels will reduce.
During the week we can begin to feel the stresses of the world build up in our brain. Maybe we start to get headaches or perhaps there’s just that dull sense of unease thrumming in the back of our minds. No matter what form your stress takes on, a simple walk in the park could be just what the doctor ordered for some good public health activity. Walking in nature has been found to reduce the stress hormones in your brain, rather dramatically in fact. While exercising outdoors you will find that your cortisol level has lowered, thus making you much more at ease. A global health initiative should be put forward that mandates time spent out in nature, it could do the world a lot of good.
Your brain will focus on more optimistic ideas.
You might need to take some online college courses in psychology to understand all of the information cited in this study, but scientists have found that people who hike out in nature are less beholden to dark thoughts. For this study researchers monitored people who walked next to a road as well as people who hiked through a forest trail. They found that overwhelmingly there was more optimism with those that hiked in the woods. We’re not sure why this is so but perhaps the colors of the woods are much more pleasing than the cold concrete, loud noise, and exhaust that roads typically have going on.
You will see an improvement in your short term memory.
One of our greatest fears as we age is losing our memory. We may not understand what a ‘soul’ is but we sure can understand what not having a mind could be like. So if you fear that your memory is starting, or might be starting to dip, you might want to consider going for more nature hikes. A study done by the University of Michigan found that people who hiked in nature were better at short term memorization than those who hiked in the city. People who walked through nature tested almost 20% better on memory related quizzes than those who walked in the city.
You will feel wealthier.
Research has also found that nature is the great wealth equalizer. While you may feel ‘poor’ when sitting in your home, especially if you are watching TV about rich celebrities, that feeling is negated when you go out to nature. Being outside tells your brain that you are in a shared world, something that is for everyone. Nobody explicitly owns nature so you no longer feel like you are on a different social plane. Scientists say that nature is the wealth equalizer as there are no classes when hiking or walking the trails.
You will feel mentally refreshed.
The same way that you feel refreshed when coming out of a shower is felt after a walk through the woods. Studies show that even a 15 minute walk outside could have you feeling mentally refreshed and ready for whatever the world might have to throw at you. Improving your body and mind at the same time while reducing your stress is an integral part of staying healthy, putting off heart disease, and staving off mental health issues. Could anything feel better than making all of this happen for yourself?
Your brain and heart will have a healthier connection.
You don’t need a pair of physical therapy online college degrees to know that your heart and your brain work closely together to keep your body healthy. Still, many people don’t realize just how important having a strong heart is to having a strong brain. Getting any sort of cardiovascular exercise will help in both areas as you pump oxygenated blood throughout your system — thanks to the aorta. Studies done by the University of Montreal linked people who exercised with better tests on memory related topics. That’s right! When you exercise, your memory increases — all because you get the blood flowing and oxygen where it needs to go.
You will less likely fall victim to depression.
When we trap ourselves inside of metaphorical cages, like your room or your office, we allow ourselves to subtly sink toward gloomy and depressed feelings. Think about the last time that you spent a few days in a row at home, not doing anything. You likely felt at least a little glum, right? Now imagine that you never really went outside and got out into nature. By going outside and spending time with the natural world you are capably fighting off the potential hands of depression. Studies show that people who hike, walk through nature, and spend time outside more are less likely to end up suffering from depression or other mental disorders.
Your concentration ability will improve.
It’s hard to put into words the reasoning behind this fact, but it’s true: getting into nature will help you concentrate when you get back to the ‘real world’. Studies have been done on people after spending 20 minutes of time outside. These studies showed that the users were able to test higher on concentration based tasks than those who had not spent any time outside. There is no concrete medical data to prove why this is true but there have been plenty of controlled tasks to back up the date: people just get better at concentrating.
Effects of ADHD may be reduced.
We talked about concentration above but science went a step further here. Scientists and researchers have found that an active outdoor life can help offset or negate the effects of ADHD in children. Keeping your child active outside with healthy hobbies and games can be a great way for them to vent out their energy and get some focus back in their day to day lives. This could have long term, dramatic, positive outcomes.
You will feel more creative.
Think of your brain like a gigantic warehouse. Your brain is sectioned off into different aisles that all accomplish different things, right? That’s why when people have brain damage it all depends on WHERE the damage occurred in order for the type of damage to come into focus. When you are outside exercising you initiate a part of your brain that deals with creativity. That is to say, getting outside and in nature will help spark up the wheel that powers your creativity. If you are having writers block or feel stymied by a problem, take a walk and see if that solves the issue for you.
You will be better at problem solving.
Going even more specifically, hiking in nature alleviates many of your problem solving skills in general. Having time set aside to shut off your electronics and commune with nature will give you a chance for your cognitive functions to sort of reset, re-center, and get back to work. Participants in studies found that a simple half hour walk out in the woods would give them enough of a chance to get back to their 0 point, thus allowing them to approach their problems with better solutions.
You will be a happier person.
At the end of the day your brain is the captain of the ship. Numerous studies have shown that spending time outside makes you happier and healthier and that’s really what it is all about. So, if your brain decides that it is happier when outside then you should make sure to engage that portion of your life. Going outside with friends and family can be a boon to your health. You don’t have to spend hours per day outside but at least try to get into the habit of spending a few extra moments out in nature when you can spare them.