Aside from gardening, one of the things to which I most look forward each Spring is being able to get outside for a nice walk. Even better is when I can steal myself away with my family for a trip to one of our national parks, where the opportunities for hiking, biking, or just general communing with nature abound. I always find myself more energized and just generally sharper after these kinds of outings.
Perhaps not surprisingly, recent research has shown that being outdoors can have a significant positive influence on mood and cognition. And it doesn’t seem to matter what activities you take up; just being outside is often enough to elicit these improvements. So whether you prefer to go on multi-day expeditions through a remote wilderness or simply sit in the garden with a nice glass of lemonade, being outside can help you reap significant brain-based rewards.
These benefits seem to be consistent for individuals with mild cognitive impairment, where studies have shown that walking just 5 miles per week can reduce brain atrophy and cognitive decline by more than 50%. For folks not already experiencing cognitive decline, walking just 6 miles per week was associated with a 50% reduction in one’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease over a 13 year period. The clear takeaway here is that walking just 5 or 6 miles a week—that’s under a mile per day—can produce significant improvements in brain protection and cognitive function.
It’s not just the physical activities that contribute to the mental gains, researchers have also found that exposure to sunlight can also positively affect people with Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline. One of the primary factors seems to be the way that sunlight helps resynchronize the brain’s natural rhythms, allowing people to regain better sleep cycles, etc.
Indeed, cutting edge research has shown that light therapy can incredibly powerful effect on cognitive function. This is why BRIGHT fast-tracked this emerging research to bring safe, easy-to-use therapies out of the lab and into your home, giving families a science-based solution for cognitive health that is available now, without a doctor’s prescription.