Sep, 2022 - By WMR
Researchers found that one hour of walking in nature can reduce activities involved in stress-processing region in the brain as compared to one hour of walking in an urban environment
Long walk in nature have always been good for health as it is relaxing. However, now in a new study, a team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has found a causal link between nature walks and reduced stress levels in humans. The researchers found it affects the stress-processing region in the brain as compared to one hour of walking in urban busy environment.
Spending time in nature has been beneficial to psychological health of humans however, how it affects the brain leading to relaxation was not clear. In this new study, the team of scientists, developed a new experiments to find out this link. The study recruited nearly 60 participants and performed MRI scan on all of them to track amygdala activity throughout various tests that measured stress responses. With this scan, the researchers established baseline for measurements and allocated every subject randomly to a 60 minute walk in forest or a 60 minute walk in urban area in a busy street of Berlin.
When the subjects completed their task, they returned to lab for same MRI imaging test. The team found that, group of subject who walked in nature has reduced activity in the amygdala and subjects who walked in urban area showed no changes in that activity, which indicated that, urban exposure does not always increase stress responses in people however, nature reduces the neural activity. These findings of the new study clears how an spending a short time period seriously in nature directly reduces stress activity in the brain, and these findings are the first one to prove this causal link.