A short walk outside improves memory and concentration more than a similar walk done inside. That’s according to a study published earlier this year by the journal Scientific Reports, which is part of Nature Portfolio.

The study found that the “event-related neural response” that impacts working memory and attention increased with a 15-minute outdoor stroll. The result was not as robust when participants took a similar walk indoors.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said the findings show that, at least for short durations of exercise, one’s environment could be a more important factor in increasing cognitive function than the workout itself.

“With the world’s growing urbanization and the associated increase in sedentary time indoors, a deeper understanding of how these factors interact and influence cognition may be critical to combat adverse health effects,” the study said.

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Study details

Katherine Boere, a neuroscience doctoral candidate and lead author of the study, told The Washington Post that their interest began when she and her colleagues would walk and talk for short meetings.

The Washington Post said after Boere started studying how walking helps positive cognitive performance, she and her colleagues gathered 30 college students to conduct the study.

The scientists “tested their working memory and ability to focus, and on alternate days, had them walk for about 15 minutes inside a building or outside on leaf-canopied paths, before repeating the cognitive test,” The Washington Post said.

The study found students had better concentration and lower reaction times when they did the outdoor walk.

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The study said, “Rather than dominating one’s attention, nature restores mental capacities and enhances cognitive performance,” an effect scientists call “soft fascination.”

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Brisk walks are an especially good form of exercise for senior citizens. In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study reported by the Deseret News, it said the best exercise for senior citizens includes walking, hiking or running.

The Deseret News has previously reported a study that showed exercising in the afternoon, as opposed to early in the morning or late in the evening, could hold the most benefits.

Findings in that research showed people with varying workout routines every day between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. have lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality compared to exercising earlier or later in the day, the Deseret News reported.

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