Stanford researchers have found that people who walk 90 minutes in a natural area, when compared to participants who walk in urban settings, show decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with depression.
“These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” said Gretchen Daily, a Stanford environmental science professor who plans to use the findings to help inform people about the importance of nature, to Health Canal. “Our findings can help inform the growing movement worldwide to make cities more livable, and to make nature more accessible to all who live in them.”
Time in nature was found to have a positive effect on the mood and cognitive function, including working memory, as well as a “dampening effect” on anxiety.
“Because I lived in the city for all my life, I never noticed how much happier I feel when I hike in nature,” Julie Yi, senior at North Hollywood High School who frequently hikes, told JSR when informed of the findings.
“I love to hike because I am more relaxed and I get to release the anxiety of living in the city,” Mike Mao, who enjoys hiking around many parts of the world, said to JSR. “I certainly do feel much healthier and happier after I hike throughout nature.”