Why You Need to Take A Hike, Literally
You might be thinking: Alright, taking a walk is good for my physical health, that’s it. Turns out, a short walk with good ol’ mother nature does more than burn some calories; there are some pretty solid cognitive benefits, too. Although COVID-19 is forcing us to stay home, the evolutionary benefits of being outdoors haven’t disappeared.
Find out how taking a 15-20 minute walk occasionally can do wonders for your mental health and focus.
Refresh from Negativity & Mental Exhaustion
Cortisol is commonly called the stress hormone by doctors (too much of it means you’re too stressed). Research suggests that students who spend time outside near trees, the ocean, or catch a breath of fresh air (which also helps regulate serotonin–happiness hormone), have lower cortisol levels compared to those who stayed slouched indoors. It’s a little thing called “forest therapy”. Even workers who are cooped up in their offices report higher job satisfaction and lower stress with a view of nature out of their window.
When you’re working hours on end, take a 15-minute nature stroll and really observe the environment around you. Maybe gaze at the stars, examine the leaves, try to understand the birds chirping, their flying patterns… just slow down and feel the harmonious connection to something bigger. Why? This awareness and connection to mother earth help stabilize moods and reduce stress.
Additionally, in a study done by David Suzuki, it was found that by spending 30 minutes in nature you had increased personal well-being and happiness. This way, when you come back from your outing and back to work, you feel restored and refreshed.
Like you’re starting your grind on a clean slate. A recent study also suggests that forest walks decrease levels of anxiety. Lastly, did you know that a satellite analysis discovered that available green space within a half-mile of your residence is associated with improved mental health?
Increase Your Short-term memory
The University of Michigan conducted a memory test on two groups of participants. One group walked down a normal city street, and the other took a walk inside an arboretum (a zoo for trees). The test results in fact showed that those who had a nice evening stroll among the trees performed a whopping 20% better from their first trial before the nature walk. The results were not the same in the city walking group, the participants performed similarly, though a bit better as fresh air and relaxation may have been a factor.
Think Sharper and Improve Concentration
This is related to the preceding point. Amazing to think about the number of cognitive advantages of simply taking a walk, eh? So, we know that nature is restorative but did you know it also improves concentration? In fact, nature’s effect on our attention span is so strong that children with ADHD were found to concentrate better after just 20 minutes outside. Furthermore, in another test college students were asked to repeat sequences of numbers by heart.
A mere 20-minute walk in nature showed a noticeable increase in recall.