Entering a more ‘zen’ mindset could be as easy as taking a walk in the park, according to a small new study.
New research from scientists at Heriot-Watt University in the U.K. conducted mobile brain electrical activity testing on volunteers to find that the brain enters a meditative state when going through green spaces.
The findings have “implications for promoting urban green space as a mood-enhancing environment for walking or for other forms of physical or reflective activity,” they wrote in the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The study included 12 healthy adults who walked through three kinds of environments in Edinburgh while being hooked up to mobile electroencephalography devices (which tracked their emotions). They took a 25-minute walk through a city shopping street, through a green space, and on a street in a busy business area. The mobile electroencephalography tracked emotions including frustration, meditation, short-term and long-term excitement, and engagement.
Researchers found that feelings of meditation were the highest when the study participants were going through the green space, as well as less frustration, long-term excitement and engagement.
The New York Times reported that the findings don’t mean the green space triggered spacing out — rather, the engagement required to walk through a green space is more “effortless,” study researcher Jenny Roe told the publication.
“It’s called involuntary attention in psychology. It holds our attention while at the same time allowing scope for reflection,” Roe told the Times.
And taking a walk in the park or a hike outdoors is good for our brains in more ways than one — the University of Washington reports that spending time in nature helps to conquer mental fatigue and even boost cognitive functioning.
For more benefits of being outdoors, click through the slideshow: