Hollyhock has always believed in the power and effectiveness of learning in the exquisite setting of the natural world.
Here’s 11 reasons you should go outside!
by Lauren F Friedman and Kevin Loria
via Business Insider
With spring finally here after a long and brutal winter, we highly recommend spending some time outside.
Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Here are just a few potential benefits:
1. Improved short-term memory
In one study, University of Michigan students were given a brief memory test, then divided into two groups.
One group took a walk around an arboretum, and the other half took a walk down a city street. When the participants returned and did the test again, those who had walked among trees did almost 20% percent better than the first time. The ones who had taken in city sights instead did not consistently improve.
Another similar study on depressed individuals also found that walks in nature boosted working memory much more than walks in urban environments.
Source: Psychological Science, 2008; Journal of Affective Disorders, 2013
2. Restored mental energy
You know that feeling where your brain seems to be sputtering to a halt? Researchers call that “mental fatigue.”
One thing that can help get your mind back into gear is exposing it to restorative environments, which, research has found, generally means the great outdoors. One study found that people’s mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect.)
Studies have also found that natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which is one of the surest ways to experience a mental boost.
Source: Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1995; Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2005; Psychological Science, 2012
3. Stress relief
Tensed and stressed? Head for the trees. One study found that students sent into the forest for two nights had lower levels of cortisol — a hormone often used as a marker for stress — than those who spent that time in the city.
In another study, researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects in the forest when compared to those in the city. “Stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy,” they concluded.
Among office workers, even the view of nature out a window is associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction.
Source: Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, 2007; Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, 2010; Japanese Journal of Hygiene, 2011; Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 2012
4. Reduced inflammation
Inflammation is a natural process the body uses to respond to threats like damage (e.g., a stubbed toe) and pathogens (e.g., exposure to the flu). But when inflammation goes into overdrive, it’s associated in varying degrees with a wide range of ills including autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and cancer. Spending time in nature may be one way to help keep it in check.
In one study, students who spent time in the forest had lower levels of inflammation than those who spent time in the city. In another, elderly patients who had been sent on a weeklong trip into the forest showed reduced signs of inflammation as well as some indications that the woodsy jaunt had a positive effect on their hypertension.
Source: Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, 2012; Journal of Cardiology, 2012