The Checkup: Take a Walk in the Park to Refresh Your Brain

A new study reveals why a steady nature regimen is so very good for your mental health.

Photo of the Wissahickon by R. Kennedy for GPTMC

• It’s not hard to convince someone that spending time outdoors reduces stress and helps you feel refreshed. But until now, now one’s been able to prove that it does just that with cold, hard, scientific evidence. Why? Because studying people’s brains while they’re actually outdoors hasn’t been particularly easy to do—until now. The New York Times reports on a study this week that finally figured out a way to do it. This one uses a fancy new portable electroencephalogram to measure and track brain waves. Using a dozen volunteers who were instructed to take short walks through a city, researchers looked at their brain patterns when they strolled through a shopping district with light vehicle and pedestrian traffic, a park with lots of trees, and a busy downtown area with heavier traffic. The EEG readouts revealed that when the walkers were in the busier urban areas, they were more attentive and frustrated. But when they walked through the park, they subjects were “mentally quieter,” the NYT says, confirming “the idea that green spaces lessen brain fatigue.” Neat, right? Read more here.

Are you a Mac or a PC? Mashable compiled research about what your device says about your personality. More here.

• If you can’t get people to stop smoking, what’s the next best thing? Healthier cigarettes, researchers at Researchers at British American Tobacco say, which is exactly what they’re working on creating. Blisstree has more.