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The Three Major Benefits of a Nature Walk

Posted on October 23 2019

The Three Major Benefits of a Nature Walk

 

 

 

 

Did you know that those living in urban areas have a higher risk for anxiety and depression than people living in rural areas? But why, you ask? In a lot of ways it has to do with increased work loads and busy, chaotic lifestyles. But, equally importantly, it is also correlated with decreased time spent in nature. 

 

Today, a majority of people live in cities and spend far less time outside. And for this generation, there is a lack of time spent in natural spaces compared to the last several generations. This is why it is so vital to set time aside to spend in the beauty of nature. Our suggestion: start going on nature walks! These can be a great way to get exercise and spend time in the solitude of the outdoors. Plus, nature walks can be extremely beneficial to your overall health.

  

So without further ado, let’s look at the three major benefits you can gain from taking walks in nature. We hope they will convince you to get out into your nearest park or forest as soon as you can! 

 

 

 

 

1. Improved Mood

 

 

As we know, exercise can have great benefits for your emotional state. It has been shown to increase endorphins, which lower stress. Walking in particular can give you an energy boost, leading to an increase of positive feelings. Science also shows that spending time in nature can be very beneficial. Nature can be a calm and quiet place for reflection: putting the mind in a meditative state. This, as we’ve talked about before, can increase positive feelings and levels of happiness.   



In fact, a study done in people with MDD (major depressive disorder), showed walking in nature to be an effective tool to combat the symptoms of depression. In the study, twenty subjects were asked to think about a negative event in their life. This primed rumination, which is a major cause of feelings of depression and anxiety. They then went on a fifty minute walk either in an urban setting or in nature. The participants who walked in nature showed significant increases in mood, compared to those who walked in urban areas. A nature walk was a sure fire way to make them smile!

 

 

 

 

 

2. Improved Memory 

 

 

Nature walks have not only been shown to improve your mood and lower anxiety, but also to enhance your cognitive state. The improvements seen in short-term memory when in nature are tied to distractions. In most urban areas, there is so much going on: so many things we have to do, so many sounds and sights around us. This makes it extremely difficult to focus. In nature, there are far fewer distractions, as well as more time to focus. The act of walking, itself, also helps with focus by allowing you to concentrate on one simple task. 



And there is, of course, science to back these findings up. A study at Stanford University investigated the impact of nature experience on cognition. The researchers, like those in the study mentioned above, assigned sixty participants to a 50-min walk in either a natural or an urban environment. Before and after their walk, participants completed various assessments of cognitive functioning. Compared to those who did the urban walk, those who did the nature walks scored much higher on working memory performance. This shows that a walk through nature can really help with your focus and performance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Improved Sleep

 

 

As we’ve seen, engaging in a daily nature walk can have a variety of mental health benefits. But what about psychical ones? It is obvious that walking, like any form of exercise, is good for your muscles and heart. But did you know that it can improve your sleep too? The benefits that nature walks can have on your sleep are believed to come from the combination of improved mood and the meditative state that nature can bring. 



Take this study from Japan that looked at participants with sleep issues and disorders. They had these individuals engage in two hour forest walking sessions. Researchers measured the sleep characteristics (length of sleep, depth of sleep, quality of sleep) compared between days in which the participants did the walks and those days when they did not. The results showed an increase in time spent sleeping and self-reported quality of sleep in subjects on the nights after walking in the forest. This backs up the idea that a walk deep in the woods can lead to deeper, more fulfilling sleep! 




 

 

Have you had positive experiences with nature walks? Let us know your story, or any thoughts you had about this topic, in the comments below!

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