Many people, especially those with mental illness, claim that walking somewhere with plenty of greenery, such as trees and grass, helps emotionally and sometimes balances a person mentally. How much of that statement is true, however? According to a study published by the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science, it is very true. The study proved that an hour and a half walking through a park has a positive affect on physiological parts of the brain.
Researchers began on the premise that urbanization holds a number of benefits but still contributes to higher rates of depression and other illnesses. The researchers were curious to see if that correlation was due to decreased time in nature, leading to the main point in the study: What link to nature affects mental health? According to the abstract of the study, “One such (link) might be the impact of nature exposure on rumination, a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought that is associated with heightened risk for depression and other mental illnesses. www.pnas.org.
The study was conducted with 38 participants, half who walked in a park and half who walked in urban environments. The aim was to test the rumination levels in the brain of both groups. As rumination is a specific pattern of thought only focused on negative self thought, it is important to know how each group regulated emotion.
The nature group shifted thoughts away from negative thoughts, according to the scientists who studied the rumination and neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex of the brain. The group in the park had less blood flow to this part of the brain, highly associated with rumination. This part of the brain has been associated with depression, which leads researchers to believe that interaction with nature could soothe depression symptoms.
It’s important to remember to get mentally ill, especially depressed, people into nature to help ease symptoms. This quoted research proves that it may do more than just provide physical exercise. If you need ideas for getting out into nature with a loved one or for yourself, contact Vancouver Home Health Care Agency today. At Vancouver Home Health Care, Caring and Compassion is our business.
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