Sunny Side of The Stream: Study Shows Walking in Nature Decreases Stress-Related Brain Activity

By Aliya Kuykendall Published on September 24, 2022

Happy weekend!

How often do you take a walk in nature? A study published earlier this month tested for the first time the effects of urban and rural environments on stress-related brain activity. Researchers had participants perform stressful activities before and after going on an hour-long walk. After participants went on a walk in a forest, activity in the amygdala, a stress-related region of the brain, decreased. However, after a walk along a busy street, amygdala activation stayed steady. The study authors suggested walking in nature “may act as a preventive measure against mental strain and potentially disease.”

I can personally attest to this. During a more stressful season of my life I found myself often taking a 15-minute walk outside during a break from work. I might be feeling somewhat stressed and decide I needed a break. I would walk out onto our property’s large grassy lawn and sit or squat down near a tree. Sometimes I brought out a picnic blanket and ate my lunch there, relaxed and prayed. I watched the butterflies, skippers and other flying insects drinking nectar from clover flowers. I soaked in whatever was beautiful or interesting in my surroundings. I told myself I was absorbing vitamin D, which is key to good health.

I don’t see many people walking on the lawn. There can be fire ants and stickers, but I found beauty. When I came in after several minutes, my mood would be drastically improved.

I also loved walking barefoot, and often got stung by the fire ants. I still have a scar from one very bad ant attack last year that turned into a large blister. I’ve since bought some thin-soled barefooting shoes that protect me from bites. I’ve gotten out of that habit of walking at work, but today I happened to take a walk again, and it was nice. Sunshine, grass, trees, flowers and insects (when they aren’t attacking me): there’s something healing about them. In light of this study, I may need to hit up a park with lots of trees after work to try to experience the feeling of being in a forest.

Without looking for anything along these lines, I came across this tweet today highlighting forest bathing.

I can’t help but think, with this tweet and this study, God is speaking to me about taking walks in nature. Maybe through this article, God is speaking to you too?

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Social Media Roundup

Look at how sweet this family is. One commenter noted how the child in yellow turns back and waves at the puddle..

@rollypollykait Witnessed this family creating a core memory a few weeks ago 🥹#corememories #corememory #fyp ♬ original sound – .

Isn’t this couple funny and sweet together?

A puppy discovers rain:

A kind little soul:

The Bible says God is a God of order. I guess this bear likes order too?

Another reminder that spending lots of time in front of screens can be harmful and to try to make time enjoy life outside and with others in real life:

Even at the young age of 6 weeks, when his or her mother may not even know she’s pregnant yet, this preborn person is beautiful and has a heartbeat:

A bear gets into a store and walks out with a candy bar:

He’s very scary when he stands. Or so he hopes the rock thinks.

A bonded baby bear:

What joy!

Remember that age when nearly anyone could instantly become a playmate and a friend?

Penguin friends:

This little boy’s reactions are the cutest. Way to go, mom and dad!

Some more great dad moves:

Speaking of walking in forests, check this phenomenon out:

Another amazing tree fact, but this time it’s a forest made up of only one tree:

A precious big brother crying over his baby sister:

I hope you have a fantastic weekend and that you can enjoy time connecting with God and people and taking a walk in some nature.


Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow Aliya on Twitter @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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