It’s well known that nature walks are good for physical and mental health. And we have written several articles that should encourage young adults to spend time in nature.
A new study led by the University of Eastern Finland has recently discovered another advantage that walking in nature offers adolescents. Students that engage in physical exercise have better academic performance than peers that don’t exercise regularly.
The study, published in the prestigious European Journal of Public Health, involved over 34,000 adolescents. This is not a small study, and the results are pretty comprehensive:
Exercise improves your ability to reduce stress and focus on your studies. Studies that also show spending time in nature has similar benefits is justification to double up on the benefits of nature walks.
So, why nature walks?
Nature walks have positive effects on adolescents’ academic performance and overall well-being in several ways. Spending time in nature and engaging in physical activity reduces stress and anxiety levels — and stress and anxiety among teenagers is through the roof.
Lower stress levels can lead to improved focus and concentration, making it easier for adolescents to study for longer without being distracted or agitated — which disarms your brain’s ability to function properly.
Moreover, reduced stress has also been linked with the capacity of the brain to retain and recall information. Children that perform better under stressful conditions yield better results in exams.
Nature walks are shown to improve cognitive function. Studies show that people have better attention spans and memory recall after spending time in nature.
Being in a natural environment can help adolescents recharge their mental energy and improve their ability to process information. Exposure to natural environments has also been linked to enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills.
Taking a break from the classroom and immersing oneself in nature can inspire creative thinking, which may be beneficial for academic projects and assignments.
Better Physical Health and Mood
Regular physical activity, like walking during nature walks, can improve overall physical health. Better physical health is associated with improved cognitive function, mood, and energy levels, all of which contribute to better academic performance.
Nature walks have a positive impact on mood and overall well-being. When adolescents feel happier and more content, they are likely to approach their schoolwork with a more positive attitude, leading to better academic performance.
Better moods and less stress also lead to better sleep quality. Being exposed to natural light during nature walks can help regulate sleep-wake cycles, leading to restful sleep which is crucial for cognitive function and academic performance.
So are your adolescent children getting enough exercise in and outside school? Researchers have found that students only engage in physical activity for five per cent of the time they are in school.
Educators and parents should encourage adolescents to spend more time in nature by organising school outings, incorporating outdoor learning activities, or promoting nature walks as part of a healthy lifestyle. By integrating nature into education, we can support adolescents’ academic success and overall well-being.