Want to Clear Your Head? Walks In Nature Are Proven To Be Better Than Walks In The City

Ever get the feeling that being in nature helps your brain? A new study shows that this is actually true.

Environmental psychology professor Marc Berman and others from the University of Michigan recently found that their study participants learned better after a walk in nature than they did after a walk through a dense urban environment.

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The majority of people in the world now live in urban environments, which is good for energy efficiency and considered by many to be leading to a better future, but it has its drawbacks.

The pollution and fast pace of urban environments can have negative effects, as well as the lack of biodiverse natural areas.

Regarding this new topic, Michael Ricciardi of Planetsave.com writes,

“It is believed that urban environments present an excess of stimuli, information and choices to our brains, leaving them fatigued.”

In an interesting analysis, another researcher from the University of Michigan, Stephen Kaplan, says that urban environments place continuous demands on "directed attention," while natural environments let our directed attention rest and naturally stimulate another form of attention, "fascination."

Fascination, according to Kaplan, improves mood, directed attention, and cognition. Interesting ideas, that Kaplan apparently has some research to back up.

Yet another study found that reflection, or "the act of gaining perspective, clearing one’s head, etc.," was improved in biodiverse green spaces.

So, if you have ever thought you needed some fresh air, a walk in nature, or a vacation deep in nature to refresh your mind, you now know there’s some science to back that up. And more biodiverse places DO have a more positive effect on your mind than simple, urban green spaces.

This is all very interesting to me, and makes me feel like I should get off this computer and go for a walk in the park. Do you think looking at nature picture on StumbleUpon would have a similar effect?

[Photo: JSDavis82/Flickr]

Zachary

I'm the editor of Cleantechnica.com, Planetsave.com and Ecolocalizer.com. You can also find my written work on EatDrinkBetter.com, Change.org, ScientificAmerican.com, GreenLivingIdeas.com, BlueLivingIdeas.com, EarthandIndustry.com, ecopolitology.org, sustainablog.org, lightngreen.com, Greenwala.com, or ZacharyShahan.com.

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  • http://www.vibrantjungthing.com Brian Collinson

    This is a very stimulating article on some very interesting research. It raises lots of very serious questions about over-stimulating environments and the effect that they have on us. Psychologically, there is no question that connecting to a green environment has an enormously beneficial aspect. Thanks for this!