7 Ways a Walk a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

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Warm weather is approaching, and that doesn’t just mean that you’re soon going to want a little help from your air conditioner. The imminent higher temperatures are full of opportunities for you to reap the benefits of nature! Along with a tan, here are some perks that come along with spending time in the [great outdoors](https://www.mountainside.com/blog/healthy-living/nature-the-cure-for-your-mind-body-and-spirit).

**You can strengthen your short-term memory**

Do you relate with Dory from Finding Nemo a little too much? Have you ever walked into a room, just to find that you have no idea why you did so in the first place? Luckily, a study at the University of Michigan concluded that individuals who took a walk in nature scored 20 percent higher on a memory test than those who walked in an urban setting. And because [depression](https://www.mountainside.com/blog/mental-health/is-it-sadness-or-is-it-depression) has been shown to cause short-term memory loss, nature walks are particularly beneficial for those struggling with depression.

**You can alleviate mental fatigue**

Ever feel like there’s fog enveloping your mind? That may be because the constant over-stimulation of living day to day in a busy, populated city contributes to feelings of mental fatigue. By contrast, when you experience natural scenery, your attention is captured by nature’s totality, which produces a sense of pleasure. So, by saying hello to nature, you can wish good riddance to mental fatigue.

**Your stress levels can be diminished**

Immersing yourself into nature can be the metaphorical sigh of relief you’ve been dreaming of. In fact, studies show that those who forest bathe, or sit amongst the greenery, can feel less stressed for days to upwards of a month after. And in an additional study, students who spent time in the forest for two nights even had less of a hormone related to stress: cortisol.

**Your mental health can improve**

Want to sign up for better mental health? Science says spending time with the foliage and sunshine may be the key. A study concluded that spending 90 minutes in nature decreases activity in the subgenus prefrontal cortex: a region in the brain that is related to mental illness risk. Those who participated in the study normally experienced frequent inner, [negative self-talk](https://www.mountainside.com/blog/mental-health/anxiety-and-negative-self-talk-how-to-cope-with-your-inner-critic). After enjoying nature for an hour and a half, they noticed a decrease in negative self-referential ponderings. However, there was no noticeable change in those who went for a walk in an urban setting. To further support the theory of nature’s benefits, a study by MIND had participants either go for a walk in nature or a walk in a mall. 71% of participants who got to take a stroll in nature felt reduced signs of depression, whereas 22% of those who spent their time in the mall felt more depressed.

**Your levels of concentration can increase**

If you ever zone out without even realizing it, it may be because urban environments have drained your concentration levels. According to Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory, immersing yourself in nature can restore your attention by taking your mind on a trip away from your everyday obligations and worries. Resting your brain can restore your concentration levels.

**You may unleash your inner creative-genius**

Ever feel like it’s difficult to come up with a creative concept, because you feel yourself focusing on the time that’s slipping away and the deadlines that are swiftly approaching? A Stanford University study concluded that when you are in nature, your immediate state of awe makes you feel as if time has stopped. As a result, it may help you find inspiration that you’ve been looking for, as your mind no longer feels confined to a clock.

**Your recovery can benefit**

You know that recovery is your number one priority and going outside is a fun way to strengthen it. [Addiction often fuels a racing mind](https://www.mountainside.com/blog/mental-health/stress-and-addiction), but nature walks can provide you with a sense of inner tranquility. Surrounding yourself with what mother nature birthed gives you a moment to ponder about your humility and how small we all are in this wonderful world. It is a reminder, through the plants and wildlife, that life is all around you and no being has complete control over anything in life. Nature reminds you that within the lack of control, you can be at peace.

Engaging in activities surrounded by nature allow us to rest our minds, reflect on our sense of self, and restore aspects of our minds that otherwise have felt drained. Next time you have the chance to have a visit with nature, say yes to the opportunity to decompress.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.