Life is too short to spend it trapped in a concrete jungle. New research is proving just how important it is to get back to nature, and get out of the city.

Gregory Bratman, along with colleagues from the US and Sweden, published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the effects of spending time in a natural setting. Bratman’s cognitive neuroscience study not only measured experiences but also the corresponding brain scans. The research involved taking 38 participants that had “no history of mental disorder,” and dividing them into two groups. One group took a 90-minute walk through a natural area near the Stanford campus, and the other group walked down a busy street in Palo Alto, California. Both groups then answered a written questionnaire designed to measure their tendencies towards negative inward-thinking (rumination), like “My attention is often focused on aspects of myself I wish I’d stop thinking about,” and “I spend a great deal of time thinking back over my embarrassing or disappointing moments.”

Before and after their walks, both groups also had their brains scanned. The researchers were particularly interested in the region of the brain called the subgenual prefrontal cortex. According to the researchers, this is “an area that has been shown to be particularly active during the type of maladaptive, self-reflective thought and behavioral withdrawal that occurs during rumination.”
Read: Talking to Yourself can Improve Your Brain


Source: New Research Confirms that Spending Time in the Woods is Great for your Brain