Thinking About a Walk in the Park

Central Park Spring 2012Spring has finally sprung in New York City, or at least it’s starting to do so. A bit of green is showing on the bare branches, and tiny shoots are peeking out from the dark ground. It turns out that a walk in the park for those of us who live in urban areas is quite the mood booster. Gretchen Reynolds, on The New York Times blog, notes that a recent study from Scotland proves that a simple walk in the park can actually ease brain fatigue and make us happier.

From the British Journal of Sports Medicine abstract:

Happiness, or the presence of positive emotional mindsets, broadens an individual’s thought-action repertoire with positive benefits to physical and intellectual activities, and to social and psychological resources. This occurs through play, exploration or similar activities. In addition, a body of restorative literature focuses on the potential benefits to emotional recovery from stress offered by green space and ‘soft fascination’.

Conclusions: Systematic differences in EEG recordings were found between three urban areas in line with restoration theory. This has implications for promoting urban green space as a mood-enhancing environment for walking or for other forms of physical or reflective activity.

But if you’re a New Yorker, or live in any large city for that matter, you probably already knew that, didn’t you?  I can’t help but be reminded of the Ogden Nash’s 1933 poem Song of the Open Road:

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.

Luckily, the New York City metro area has hundreds of parks. The photo above is from a stroll I took in spring of 2012. Time to get back out there. Come on, get happy!

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