But new research reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine now provides scientific proof that walking in nature and spending time under leafy shade trees causes electrochemical changes in the brain that can lead people to enter a highly beneficial state of “effortless attention.”
The UK researchers state with some justifiable academic stuffiness that “..happiness, or the presence of positive emotional mindsets, broadens an individual’s thought-action repertoire with positive benefits to physical and intellectual activities, and to social and psychological resources.”
They assert that this mental benefitâ€”happiness, if you willâ€”occurs in individuals who are engaged in play, exploration, or other discovery-type activities. They note that until now, technology has not permitted scientists to study the cortical correlates of persons actively engaged within differing environments, but new developments in mobile electroencephalography (EEG), however, now allow exactly such measurements to be made.
In this recent study, a research team from Herriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, outfitted a group of test subjects with mobile electrodes fastened to their heads. The subjects then took programmed walks in three different environmentsâ€”an urban shopping district, a park with a lush green environment, and a busy commercial zone.