If you need a reason to step away from your screens and take a walk outside today, how about improved physical and mental health?
According to a Molecular Psychiatry study published earlier this month, “mental health problems like anxiety, mood disorders, major depression, and schizophrenia are up to 56 percent more common in urban compared to rural environments.” And for its study, it followed 63 healthy participants and measured their brain activation levels before and after a walk to determine the different impact being in an urban or natural setting had on our brain and mental health.
Read more: 6 Lesser-Known Hikes To Try In Hong Kong
Participants were randomly assigned a walk in either Grunewald forest, the largest green area in Berlin, or a walk in the bustling city for an hour. They were instructed not to use their mobile phones or enter shops to avoid potential distractions and were given an on-the-go lunch to eat during the walk.
Prior to the walk, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire and undergo a functional MRI (fMRI) scan, which measures brain activity.
Afterwards, they were sent out for their one-hour walk and was given another fMRI scan and questionnaire upon their return to assess the different effects walking in the city or the forest had on them.