In a new study, scientists studied the impact of walking on nature on the almond body, a small structure in the center of the brain that is involved in stress management, emotional learning, and "beating or running" reactions.
Previous studies have shown that the almond body is weaker in times of stress in rural areas than in urban areas, but this does not mean that life itself in rural areas causes this effect; perhaps vice versa, and people who have this natural characteristic are more likely to live in the village.
In order to study this issue, staff of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development conducted a study using a functional magnetic resonance tomography and various pathological conditions.
Using 63 healthy adult volunteers, researchers asked the testees to fill out the questionnaires, perform the work memory assignment, and pass the FMT scan, responding to questions they had developed to cause social stress, and the participants were told that the experiment included an MRI and a walk, but they did not know the purpose of the study.
Then, the test subjects were accidentally assigned to take a one-hour walk or in urban conditions.
The researchers asked the testees to follow a certain route anywhere, without losing course or using mobile phones, each participant went through another FMT scan and an additional stress assignment and completed another questionnaire.
A scan of the FMT showed a decrease in the activity of the almond body after a walk in the woods, confirming the theory that nature produces positive effects in stress-related areas of the brain, and it appears that this can happen in only 60 minutes.
Participants who took a walk in the forest also reported restoring attention and pleasure from the walk itself, as opposed to those who took a walk in the city, which is consistent with the results of the FMT scan as well as previous studies.