October 2, 2009

Take a hike. It’s good for all of us.

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Here’s something for your Friday. Take a hike.

Psychologists at the University of Rochester conducted four experiments with 370 people  who were shown computer images of either natural settings or man-made settings. The subjects studied and described the images. Bottom line – being one with nature not only makes you feel better, it makes you behave better.

In all four studies, people exposed to images of nature rated close relationships and community values higher than they had after observing man-made environments. The more deeply engaged people were in the natural settings, the more they valued community and closeness to others. The more intensely they focused on man-made settings, the more they valued fame and wealth.

The study, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, might lead civic leaders and urban planners to incorporatealpe-dhuez-014 more parks, green space and nature into city life, the LA Times noted in its health-related blog, Booster Shots.

“We are influenced by our environment in ways that we are not aware of,” the lead author of the study, Netta Weinstein, said in a news release. “The more you appreciate nature, the more you can benefit.”

— Rita Hibbard

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