There have been some interesting studies in recent years regarding the benefits of time spent walking in nature, out among the greenery. Taking a break during the day to go for a walk can improve your mood and increase your memory and attention, whether you choose to walk down a few city blocks or stroll through a wooded area. However, research has shown that people who enjoy their walk in a green space experience a significantly greater improvement than those who take their walks among buildings and traffic.
Spending time in nature improves memory, attention, and mood across all ages. The benefits to children with attention disorders and adults suffering depression seem to be the most dramatic. Why is a walk in a park more beneficial than a walk down a city street? Scientists believe it’s due to the overstimulation a city street causes. In this environment, your mind is constantly busy, navigating around other pedestrians and avoiding traffic. A walk in the woods, on the other hand, gives your mind a break. You can simply walk and use a more relaxed form of attention that allows the brain to refresh itself.
The sad truth is, many people don’t have access to a green space where their brains can rest and recharge. Making sure people of all ages and abilities can get to a park or other green space should be a priority when planning our cities and determining where to place parks. More green spaces will improve the lives of everyone from, from business men and women on their lunch breaks to preschoolers taking a recess.
If you’re interested in getting involved in your town or city’s park system, contact your Parks and Recreation department or ask the nearest Land Trust organization how you can support their efforts. You can also research non-profits in your area that work to add greenery and access to parks to the community.
You can read more about the benefits of urban parks here.