Stop and Smell the Roses!

Overwhelmed and feeling stressed? WALK it off…but WHERE?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Previous studies have shown higher rates of mental illness and stress in the concrete jungle. But can a change of scenery help us out?

Enter Sonja Sudimac and her team at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany.

They randomly assigned sixty-three volunteers an hour-long walk in either a forest or urban environment. Their vital signs were monitored during their walks to track stress level changes. And the brain’s stress center, the amygdala, was scanned before and after their strolls.

Result? The volunteers reported feeling more mentally restored after walks in nature. And their brains agreed, showing lower amygdala activity than city walkers. But never fear! If you can’t get away from the city, urban walks didn’t INCREASE stress levels. 

Alright, break time. If anyone needs me, I’ll be circling that cell phone tower that looks sort of… vaguely… like a tree. 

Reference: Sudimac, S., Sale, V., & Kühn, S. (2022, September 5). How nature nurtures: Amygdala activity decreases as the result of a one-hour walk in nature. Molecular Psychiatry.