Archive for October 27th, 2012

It Worked For Me

From the October 23, 2012 Wall Street Journal:

Viewing or spending time in nature has been shown in numerous studies to alter people’s physical and emotional response to stress.

A review of 120 studies published in 2009 in the International Journal of Public Health found that time spent in parks, gardens, or waterfront or wilderness settings was associated with more positive feelings, lower pulse rates, and other markers of well-being.  Researches have long known that mood and anxiety disorders are more common among city dwellers.

A brain-imaging study last year in Nature suggested that living close to nature alters the brain’s response to stressful challenges.  When compared with people who live in rural settings, city-dwellers subjected to stress show more activation of the amygdala, which processes emotions.

People who have been raised in cities also show greater activation of the cingulate cortex, which helps regulate the amygdala and process emotions, compared with participants raised in the country.

In a 2o1o study by Japanese researchers, subjects who walked through a forest posted lower blood pressure, pulse rate and stress-hormone levels than those who toured a city.

Researchers believe nature offers pleasant, refreshing stimuli that help people find meaning or a sense of identity, without imposing stressful challenges or distractions.