The Cognitive Benefits of Being Outdoors

The Cognitive Benefits of Being Outdoors

It all begins with an idea.

Taking a hike on a local trail, enjoying a picnic in your favorite park—it turns out the benefits of being outdoors are expansive.  

Not only that, but stepping outside can improve your brainpower.

This post will explore the cognitive advantages of spending time in nature.

The Outdoors Can Strengthen Your Mental Health

Experts link access to greenspace with lower levels of stress and a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

One went so far as to call outdoor walks “useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments” for major depressive disorder.

Curious about this de-stressing effect? One study revealed that people who spend time in the forest rather than the city experience a decrease in their heart rate and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Nature Can Improve Short-Term Memory

Research also indicates spending time outside can enhance short-term memory.

It’s worth noting that experiences in nature have been found to improve the memory significantly more than time spent outside in urban areas.

To this end, there’s something about the quiet of the outdoors—the stability of the natural world—that offers a calming effect and ultimately improves our focus.

What Makes Nature So Restorative?

Are you familiar with Attention Restoration Theory (ART)?

ART, a pillar of environmental psychology, states that outdoor scenes have the capacity to replenish our depleted attention.

First proposed by Kaplan and Kaplan in 1989, the framework indicates that people in metropolitan areas must use their attention to overcome the constant stimulation they face, while natural environments inherently capture our attention and elicit pleasure.

In simple terms, nature boasts a number of restorative benefits. One of them is the very idea of being away, or the sense of escape time in the outdoors brings, and yet another is the vastness of a stunning outdoor landscape.

Sounds pretty good to us.

Click here for more information on the cognitive benefits of nature.

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