That walk to the park could save your sanity.
According to a recent report in “The New York Times,” taking in some greenery can improve mental health.
Researchers have known that city dwellers with no access to parks exhibit a greater incidence of neurosis.
A Stanford researcher wanted to know more. He conducted an experiment in which subjects were asked to either walk along leafy paths or along bustling highways.
Those who walked the paths – and skipped the concrete – were happier.
Digging deeper, he wanted to track how the brain itself is affected by outdoor activity.
He gathered almost 40 volunteers, asked them to report on their moods and then he measured their brain activity.
Half the volunteers were asked to spend 90 minutes walking through a park. The other half were assigned to walking along a highway.
After the walks, the researcher performed another brain scan and had the volunteers submit to some more questions.
The results: Those who walked along the highway reported no change in their spirits and revealed no changes in their brain activity.
Those who walked in the park reported feeling happier and less stressed. What’s more, their brain scans showed that the part of the brain most associated with depression and moodiness – the subgenual prefrontal cortex – showed a surprising decrease in blood flow. That’s a significant physiological bonus almost all of us can enjoy.
The upshot: Get back into nature, for your own well-being.