Tags: nature | walk | depression

Walk in the Park Eases Depression

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 02:49 PM

A walk in the park, or other natural settings, appears to boost the moods and cognitive abilities of people suffering with depression – and not only because of the physical activity.
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers in Canada and the U.S. have found promising evidence that nature walks ease depression, boost memory and may confer other psychological benefits.
The study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, was a joint investigation of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care’s Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, the University of Michigan and Stanford University.
"Our study showed that participants with clinical depression demonstrated improved memory performance after a walk in nature, compared to a walk in a busy urban environment," said lead researcher Dr. Marc Berman of Baycrest. "Walking in nature may act to supplement or enhance existing treatments for clinical depression, but more research is needed to understand just how effective nature walks can be to help improve psychological functioning."
The study follows prior research Berman conducted four years ago that showed even adults not diagnosed with any illness received a mental boost after an hour-long walk in a woodland park – improving their performance on memory and attention tests by 20 percent.
For the new study, Berman and his colleagues explored whether a nature walk would provide similar cognitive benefits, and also improve mood for people with clinical depression. It involved 20 depression sufferers, recruited from the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor area, who were asked to take walks in a quiet nature setting and in a noisy urban setting.
After completing the walks, they completed a series of mental tests to measure their attention, moods and short-term working memory. Researchers found a 16 percent increase in attention and working memory after the nature walk in a quiet natural setting, compared to the urban hike.
The study was supported, in part, by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

© HealthDay

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Nature hikes may boost the moods and cognitive abilities of people suffering with depression.
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 02:49 PM
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