… at least, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science.
A group of scientists from the University of Michigan had two sets of volunteers who were given memory tests. After taking the tests, one group walked through downtown Ann Arbor, while the other took a stroll through a park. When they came back to the lab to retake the tests, the group that went into the park had “greatly improved” results, while the city-walkers had no improvement.
In a second take on the experiment, the groups were just shown pictures of nature or city settings, and had the same result. The authors write:
urban environments provide a relatively complex and often confusing pattern of stimulation, which requires effort to sort out and interpret. Natural environments, by contrast, offer a more coherent (and often more aesthetic) pattern of stimulation that, far from requiring effort, are often experienced as restful. Thus being in the context of nature is effortless, permitting us to replenish our capacity to attend and thus having a restorative effect on our mental abilities.
Of course, many hikers — myself included — often wax poetic about the rejuvenating effects of spending a bit of time by yourself in the woods. Now we have Science to back us up. Science! Take that, urbanites!