As spring temperatures rise, leaves blossom, days lengthen, and the outdoors beckon, research says relocating your exercise outside might boost its advantages for thinking, health, happiness
“This all started with our walking meetings,” said University of Victoria neuroscience doctorate candidate Katherine Boere, who headed the green exercise neurological research.
Boere needed proof that forest walks were more productive than remaining indoors. She researched data that indicated walking, inside or out, enhanced cerebral blood flow and cleaned brains.
She and her colleagues assessed 30 college students' working memory and attentiveness, then had them walk for 15 minutes inside or outside on leaf-canopied walkways before repeating the cognitive assessments.
Outdoor walks outperformed inside ones. Boere said students focussed better and replied quicker, confirming scientific theories on how nature impacts our brains.
Other studies showed that it might boost motivation and make exercise less intimidating. Last year, Chinese researchers found that young, inactive obese adults who walked in a park
In a prior study, older men and women informed researchers where they exercised, usually walking, and then wore activity monitors for a week. Outdoor walkers actively exercised 30 minutes more each week than inside walkers.
However, merging nature with exercise for maximum benefit has drawbacks. If buildings and concrete surround you, going outside may not be enough.
Exercise is healthy for us inside or out, in green settings or gray, in sunlight or fluorescents. Wicks said outdoor activity in nature may improve mental health.