Back in May, Dave posted a WorkPuzzle on the positive impact walking has on creativity. Nothing could be easier than taking a quick walk when your feeling stuck or having difficulty solving a problem.
But, does this really work?
There seems to be additional research mounting to confirm what Dave originally reported. In fact, stepping outside and spending some time in natural settings (trees, gardens, flowers, fresh air, etc.) could significantly increase your productivity and short-term mental capacity.
Eight different research studies were recently highlighted in a popular blog written by Lauren Friedman and Kevin Loria to demonstrate the benefit of spending some time away from your desk in a natural setting.
The mental productivity benefits were summarized in the following three categories.
Time In Nature Can Boost Short-Term Memory
In one study, University of Michigan students were given a brief memory test, then divided into two groups.
One group took a walk around an arboretum, and the other half took a walk down a city street. When the participants returned and did the test again, those who had walked among trees did almost 20% percent better than they did the first time. The ones who had taken in city sights instead did not consistently improve.
Another similar study on depressed individuals also found that walks in nature boosted working memory much more than walks in urban environments.
Natural Environments Restore Mental Energy
You know that feeling where your brain seems to be sputtering to a halt? Researchers call that "mental fatigue."
One thing that can help get your mind back into gear is exposing it to restorative environments, which, research has found, generally means the great outdoors. One study found that people's mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect.)
Studies have also found that natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which is one of the surest ways to experience a mental boost.
A Walk Outside Can Help You Focus
We know the natural environment is "restorative," and one thing that a walk outside can restore is your waning attention. In one early study, researchers worked to deplete participants' ability to focus. Then some took a walk in nature, some took a walk through the city, and the rest just relaxed. When they returned, the nature group scored the best on a proofreading task. Other studies have found similar results — even seeing a natural scene through a window can help.
To read more details and investigate the research more closely, take a look at the original posting.
If you’re convinced this is beneficial, plan some short “nature walks” into your day. This could be as simple as stopping by a city park between appointments or taking a walk during your lunch break.
Summer is a great time to develop this new habit. Start working on it today—your mind will thank you.