Brain fatigue eased by outdoors, shows pioneering mobile EEG study

Woman wearing mobile EEG

Adapted from flickr, Rain Rabbit and Greenway Guide (Steve Davis)

Once again scientists have confirmed what those who love nature have experienced time and time again.

Not only does time outdoors make you smarter and more creative, but now research shows that it also provides an opportunity for your brain to recover from daily stress.

Earlier this year, a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed how brain states of those who live in cities are altered by the outdoors.

For the first time, a mobile electroencephalography (EEG) was used to record brain activity while participants went for a walk. After only 25 minutes, those taking a leisurely stroll had lower frustration levels and were more alert. 

The graph below details the rise and fall in brainwaves associated with “frustration” for a participant over the duration of the walk, as calculated by the mobile EEG software



These results support anecdotal evidence of a very simple cure for a very common ailment: brain fatigue, also known as cognitive overload.

Demanding schedules, the constant distractions of technology and the noisy urban life that are becoming increasingly normal leave our brains distracted, forgetful and stressed.

By spending even a bit of time outdoors, our brain is able to enter into a mediative, restorative state that eases the impact stress can have on its abilities. 

If an easy, short walk in nature is all we need to begin to restore calm and concentration to an otherwise-harried mind, imagine what a whole day in wilderness might facilitate!

Some of us seek out wild lands precisely because we've come to expect these peaceful experiences. We need to protect the precious places that offer us these invaluable opportunities.