Stressed out by the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the double-dip recession or just the day to day grind of modern life? Need a break? Don't turn to alcohol or caffeine, try a nature walk instead.
That's according to a growing body of research from psychologists that examines what really produces mental refreshment in humans. For example, a study from 2008 showed that walking through an arboretum boosted people's performance on memory tests. And a 2005 study showed that even just looking at a picture of nature had a similar, though more muted effect.
Journalist Richard Louv has proposed that depriving kids of nature has produced a cohort of children with attention problems, obesity and the like. He dubbed it "nature deficit disorder." And a 2009 study in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that children with attention problems concentrate better after a walk in the park.
Of course, there are a wide range of reasons why some kids today have attention issues, including stress. That goes double for adults. But if you're in need of some tranquility, a walk in the woods may beat a cup of coffee.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]