Go Outdoors: Go outside, your health demands it

Nevin Fowler

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Self-portrait during the full moon in Yellowstone National Park (Nevin Fowler | Collegian)

For centuries, poets like John Muir, Henry David Thoreau and Robert Frost have pondered it. Yet, I think Lenny Pepperbottom, in his series Neature Walk, best describes it when he said,

“Neature is Neat.”

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What is it that all these great poets were alluding to? It is the tangible clarity that comes from spending time in the outdoors. According to the National Geographic article “This is your brain on Nature,” David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, has found a direct correlation between time spent in the outdoors and the brain`s cognitive function.

Strayer found that people were “50 percent better on creative problem-solving tasks after three days of wilderness backpacking.” This research is amazing; it proves what Lenny already knew – neature clears the mind.

In today`s fast-paced world, our brains have little time to relax. According to Strayer, a walk in the outdoors provides much-needed tranquility to our overworked brains.

Strayer is not alone is his thinking. In the same article, a study by Richard Mitchell, an epidemiologist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, suggests that just looking at a photograph of nature can provide relief to anxiety.

Another study by Stanford University, “found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.”

A short video by Nature RX claims that “nature may cause you to slow down, quit your job, or seriously consider what the f$%^ you are doing with your life.” Although their video is not hard science, they make the point in an entertaining and memorable way.

With issues such as depression and anxiety on the rise, studies such as these are groundbreaking. Of course, none of these studies are suggesting that nature is a fix-all solution, but it is a great way to escape the chaos caused by 21st-century life.

So, grab your friends, go outdoors and find some much-needed tranquility — your brain will thank you.

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Collegian Blogger Nevin Fowler can be reached online at blogs@collegian.com, on Twitter @nevintfowler or on Instagram @nevintfowler. Leave a comment!!