Outdoor Activity is Good for Your Brain and Body
Russ Chastain 06.13.16
Getting outdoors is pretty wonderful. Heck, it’s even in the name of this website! Those of us who love to get out there already know that it helps us clear our heads and regain our sanity, and now it looks like science is backing that up.
It’s no surprise, of course, but it might help if you have to convince your spouse or employer that you need a mental health day in the tree stand or fishing boat.
What spurred the research? Some surprising trends.
The average American child now spends half as much time outside as compared to only 20 years ago. HALF. Only 6% of children will play outside on their own in a typical week.
Conversely, kids are now spending almost 8 hours per day watching television, playing video games, or using a computer, tablet, or phone for recreational purposes. That number actually jumps up to 10 hours if you count doing two things at once!
Overall, Americans now spend 93% of their time inside a building or vehicle.
Yikes. 93% is way too much! But there’s hope.
The article goes on to note that folks who took a 90-minute walk in “a natural environment” had “far lower levels of brooding or obsessive worry” — and brain scans showed lower blood flow to the part of the brain that is usually active during bad moods or depression.
Oh, and walkers who did so in the city experienced no such mental benefits.
In other words, taking a walk in the woods is good for your body and mind.
It also helps folks be creative. They say that four days in the woods “with no access to technology” caused participants to score 50% higher in tests that measure problem-solving and other creative skills.
In other words, stop reading this and start hiking.
But wait, there’s more.
Hiking outdoors is also helpful for ADHD and related conditions, improves memory and staves off dementia, and even improves students’ grades. Oh, and they also claim that wandering outdoors for as little as five minutes can boost self-esteem, and that definitely fights depression.
You can read the full article here. But you really ought to get outdoors!