An hour’s walk in the forest is enough to reduce stress.
MENTAL HEALTH – Reading in the park, bucolic walk, ecotherapy… Nature is associated with a whole series mental and physical health benefits. Published in the journal Molecular psychiatry 5th of September, a study by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, “proves a (positive) causal link between nature and health brain », says Simone Kühn, co-author of the study. Just an hour away ride in nature is enough reduce stress.
To demonstrate this correlation, the researchers studied the amygdala, a small structure in the center of the brain involved in stress processing and emotional learning, in 63 adult volunteers. Before the MRI, they performed memorization exercises and answered questions, some of which were specifically designed to induce social stress.
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Without knowing the purposestudies, were then randomly assigned to a one-hour walk. Some of them in the urban environment of Berlin, others in the natural environment: in the Grunewald forest, which is located on the outskirts of the German capital. All this without the use of a mobile phone while following a predefined route. They then completed the questionnaire again and underwent an MRI with another stress-inducing task.
Molecular psychiatry / Nature
Some participants walked through the streets of Berlin, others in the Grunewald forest.
Magnetic resonance imaging then showed reduced amygdala activity in the subjects who walked through the forest. These indicated that they had regained their attention and enjoyed the walk more than those who walked around town. “Results Confirm Previously Hypothesized Positive Relationship Between Nature and Brain Health”says Simone Kühn.
While amygdala activity did not decrease in urban pedestrians, it also did not increase, despite spending an hour in a busy urban environment. According to the article by scientific notice, that doesn’t necessarily mean that cities don’t harm our mental health. The stressful effect may be less strong than other studies suggest. It may also depend on some factors that were not present in this street Berlin. “These results strongly support salutogenic effects (well-being support, editor’s note) nature, as opposed to urban exposure, which causes additional stress”the researchers write.
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