Walking in Nature Can Set Your Mind at Ease, Studies Show

by Kayla Zadel

We all knew nature was great for the mind, but now there’s science to prove it. Feeling down? A walk outside amongst nature might be able to fix ya right up.

According to a recent psychology study, research shows that walking through an urban environment actually increases the mental load. Furthering individuals from the goal of reaching a lower stress level. As a matter of fact, a walk through a concrete jungle can actually slow your pace.

However, a stroll through nature seems to ease the mind. It can even quicken your pace, providing a more fulfilling exercise. The study supports the thought that “natural settings are mentally therapeutic.” Additionally, outdoor environments are reducing cognitive fatigue and even improving reaction times.

Previous studies have shown that people perform better in cognitive tasks after a walk in nature. But this new research suggests that these benefits might also occur at the moment as well.

Walking in Nature Study Details

The research team measured these results in walking speed and reaction times. The study shows that a participant’s gate can show their cognitive load. Additionally, the reaction time also indicates higher-level brain processes like attention.

Research participants were asked to walk into a room with two different images. One image was of a nature scene and the other of a cityscape. After each pass, the participants were asked to rate their feelings. The results show that walking in an urban setting provides a higher cognitive load and a slower pace.

Then they were asked to participate in cognitive activities. The participants were slower in describing shapes after walking in the urban scenes. Researchers concluded from these results that when individuals are in a natural setting it’s easier and less stressful for the mind to process.

Other research shows that simply looking at photos of nature could lower stress levels at work. For people of all ages, natural patterns tend to be aesthetically pleasing and psychologically calming.

The study included two experiments with two different approaches with 65 university students in a lab. However, the research states that the results will need to be verified among a larger group of participants in real-world environments.