Walking through green spaces may affect the brain in the same way as meditation, according to a new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in the U.K. wired up volunteers with a device to track their brainwaves, then had them walk through an old shopping district, a park, and a busy commercial area. They found that participants entered into a kind of meditative state while walking through the park, experiencing less frustration and engagement.
The British study is the latest in a string of research on the benefits of spending time in nature. In 2011, Japanese scientist Yoshifumi Miyazaki of the University of Chiba said in a paper that walking in the forest lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 12.4 percent in research subjects as compared to strolling in an urban environment.
Read more about the science of "forest bathing" in Florence Williams's ASME-nominated feature Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning