Here are some depressing numbers: the average 8-18 year old in America only spends 15-25 minutes a day in outdoor play or sports, while spending 7.5 hours a day soaked in media from TV, computers, and cell phones. It’s easy to see how people can make a case for something like Nature Deficit Disorder.

But it’s not all bad news – a new study by the University of Utah and the University of Kansas found that spending time in the wilderness away from electronics may make you a more creative thinker. After spending four days on a backpacking trip, participants in the study scored a full 50% better on a ten-question creativity test than they did before lacing up their boots.

From the psychologists themselves:

“Our modern society is filled with sudden events (sirens, horns, ringing phones, alarms, television, etc.) that hijack attention. “By contrast, natural environments are associated with gentle, soft fascination, allowing the executive attentional system to replenish.”

The researchers were quick to note that the tests didn’t actually show whether it was the immersion in nature, the lack of electronic distractions, or a combination of the two that resulted in the boost in creativity – but I’m sure it’s something we’ve all felt before, either on the trail or after coming home. I know when I’ve got a particularly tough thing to mull over, taking a nice long walk in the mountains is a great way to just open my mind up to process it WITHOUT guzzling coffee and banging my head against a desk.

As is usually the case, John Muir said it best when he said “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

IMG_5682

Follow

Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor at Modern Hiker
In addition to writing about the outdoors since 2006, Casey has also been producing and writing television since 2003.He was the Head Writer on G4's "Attack of the Show," co-writer and host of "The MMO Report," and the Series Producer / Head Writer of pivot's "TakePart Live."His work has received several honors, including Webby, Telly, and CableFAX awards.
Follow

Latest posts by Casey Schreiner (see all)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: , ,

This post was written by Casey Schreiner on December 13, 2012

1 Comment

Leave a Reply