Walking in nature provides more benefits than you may realize. Although you may already know how important walking is to your health, many are surprised to learn that natural surroundings can enhance its health benefits.
More importantly, growing research shows that walking in nature actually changes your brain for the better. It can improve cognitive functions and reduce symptoms of many common mental health issues.
How Does Walking in Nature Influence the Brain?
Research shows that walking has positive effects on the brain. Walking in nature can decrease the flow of blood to areas of the brain that are associated with mental illness.
Natural surroundings can have other beneficial effects such as decreasing the frequency of negative thinking and rumination. City walkers tend to see an increase in these factors while those who walk in natural settings experience a decrease.
Walking in nature improves cognition and memory. These and other benefits, found in this Physiomed infographic, are excellent reasons to take the time to walk in natural settings whenever possible.
Urban Settings and Stress
Large cities and other urban settings can present a number of health risk factors to residents. Chronic exposure to environmental stressors as well as busy lifestyles can contribute to an increase in anxiety, depression, and other emotional issues.
The number of people living in urban settings is expected to increase. As a result, many health experts predict an increase in diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and obesity.
Walking in Nature Leads to Long-Term Health
Spending time in nature can help reduce overall stress. Regular walks in parks and other natural settings can decrease the body’s level of cortisol and other stress hormones.
It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for digestion, recovery, and immune health.
Walking can improve blood flow in a way that supports brain health. It increases anti-cancer proteins in the body as well as the number of cells that help fight disease.
Researchers have observed a 50 percent reduction in mental health risks among people who regularly exercise in natural settings.
Learning how walking in nature supports your long-term health can give you the information you need to begin creating lasting health for you and your family.