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  1. Improved short-term memory. The University of Michigan applied two memory tests on students. After taking the first exam, they asked that the group be divided in two. 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% better than 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.

  2. Restored mental energy. You know that feeling where your brain seems to be sputtering to a halt? Researchers at the University of Padua’s Psychology School, in Italy, call it “mental fatigue”. The remedy would be more assiduous exposure to nature however brief it may. They did tests with three groups that were exposed to different images: of a city, geographic shapes and of nature. The pictures of natural beauties were the only ones that helped them bounce back. Studies have also found that natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which is one of the surest ways to experience a mental boost.

  3. Stress relief.The Zhejiang Hospital in China compared two groups of youngsters exposed to different environments. One group spent two nights in the forest. The other stayed in the city. Comparative exams show that the volunteers exposed to nature presented lower levels of cortisol – hormone used as a stress marker – and a lower heart rate. Other tests indicate that office workers have lower stress and higher job satisfaction when given a view of nature even if out a window.

  4. Reduced inflammation.Inflammation is a natural process the body uses to respond to threats. It can be a contusion, like a stubbed toe, or pathogens, like the flu. In both cases, when information goes into overdrive, its associated in varying degrees with a wide range of ills including autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, depression and cancer. Spending time in nature may be one way to help keep it in check. Students who spent time in the forest had lower levels of inflammation than those who spent time in the city.

    At Zhejiang Hospital, the test was repeated with another population: 12 elderly patients. One group spent a week-long trip in the forest and the other was sent to Hangzhou city. Those who spent time in the forest showed reduced signs of inflammation and lower blood pressure.

  5. Better vision. At least in children, a fairly large body of research has found that outdoor activity may have a protective effect on the eyes, reducing the risk of developing myopia. An Australian study that followed almost 2,000 schoolchildren for two years. The minors who spent more time outdoors had a lower prevalence of myopia, especially among 12-year-olds. Another study, in Taiwan, involved three entities: Chang Gung University School of Medicine, Kohsiung Memorial Hospital and Kohsiung School of Medicine: researchers studied two nearby schools where myopia was equally common. They told one school to encourage outdoor activity during recess and monitored the other as a control. After one year, the rate of myopia in the control school was 17.65%; in the “play outside” school, it was just 8.41%.

  6. Improved concentration. University of California researchers Terri Harting and Gary Evan, and Marlis Mang from Planning and Design Solutions, sent a group of students to 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. The attentional effect of nature is so strong it might help kids with ADHD to concentrate better after just 20 minutes in a park.

  7. Sharper creativity.Researchers at the University of Kansas and University of Utah say that four days of immersion in nature, without any connection to multimedia or technology devices, increases creativity by 50%.

  8. Prevents cancer.A study conducted in Japan by the Department of Public Health and Hygiene at Nippon School of Medicine, analyzed a group of men and women who spent two nights and three days in a forest area. Blood and urine samples were collected on the second, third and seventh day (when they had already returned from the trip). The test showed an increase in immune system. When repeating the same tests 30 days later, it was verified that the ‘bath of nature’ still maintained its effect.

  9. Immune system boost. Estudo realizado no Japão, pelo Departamento de Higiene e Saúde Pública, da Faculdade de Medicina de Nippon, analisou um grupo de homens e mulheres que passaram duas noites e três dias em um região florestal. Foram colhidas mostras de sangue e urina no segundo dia, no terceiro e no sétimo (quando já tinham voltado da viagem). Os testes provaram o aumento de imunidade. Repetidos os mesmos exames 30 dias depois, constatou-se que o banho de verde ainda mantinha seu efeito.

  10. A remedy for bad mood.Anxiety, depression and other mental health issues may all be eased by spending some time in the outdoors, especially when combined with exercise. One study found that walks in the forest were specifically associated with decreased levels of anxiety and bad moods. Another study also found that outdoor walks could be “useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments” for major depressive disorders. “Every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood,” found an analysis of 10 earlier studies about so-called “green exercise.” In all of them, “the mentally ill had one of the greatest self-esteem improvements.” The presence of water made the positive effects even stronger.

  11. Reduced risk of early death.Researchers at Harvard University used data from a study done on the health of residents. Of the 108,630 participants, 8,604 died between 2000 and 2008. With access to addresses, they measured the amount of green area around each volunteer with help from satellite image information. The results showed that residents with 1,250 m² of green area died less, especially of cancer and respiratory diseases.

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