Are you on blood pressure medication? Bet your doctor didn’t tell you to take daily walks in the forest. She did probably tell you to lower your stress levels, but this conversation was most likely focused on your work, perhaps how much you are working, and identifying other areas of stress in your life. And maybe you are now taking daily walks outside, but down the busy street during your lunch-time break.
Ever stop to wonder about the effects of an urban versus a nature walk? How about how the view from your office window might affect your blood pressure? Then you might be interested in two experiments by Terry Hartig’s research team.
1) The researchers tested participants while sitting either in a room with a view of trees or a room with no window.
Results: Blood pressure decreased for the people in the room with the view, but increased for those in the room with no window.
2) They took research participants walking, in either a nature reserve or a medium-density housing development.
Results: The participants who walked in the nature reserve experienced a decrease in blood pressure and reported a decline in feelings of anger and aggression, while those who walked in the urban setting experienced an increase in all three areas (including blood pressure).
The bottom line
Exercise is considered important for lowering your blood pressure, and the associated stress emotions. However, you might want to where you exercise. It might make a world of difference!
Hartig, T., Evans, G. W., Jamner, L. D., Davis, D. S., and Gärling, T. (2003). Tracking restoration in natural and urban field settings. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23(2), 109-123.