The Wild Reason This Neuroscientist Wants You To Spend More Time Outside

It’s not hard to convince most people that spending time in nature is good for them. Stepping outside after a long day and feeling your shoulders drop, your mind relax, and your breath steady is proof enough.

But just in case you need some extra persuading, there’s now scientific reason to believe that nature exposure has a significant impact on blood pressure, cortisol levels, and more. And on a recent episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, neuroscientist and author of Biohack Your Brain Kristen Willeumier, Ph.D. shared yet another reason to embrace mama Earth: Her frequency might support brain health.

Tuning into the Earth’s frequency:

Beyond giving us space to move, helping us produce vitamin D, and serving as a respite from emails and devices, Willeumier says that nature is healing because of its unique charge.

“The Earth has its own frequency, called a Schumann Resonance, which is about 7.8 Hertz,” she said on the podcast.

NASA refers to this frequency, discovered by its namesake physicist Winfried Otto Schumann in the 1950s, as the planet’s “atmospheric heartbeat.” Caused by the electric currents of lightning interacting with the Earth’s atmosphere, there’s some early evidence to show that the Schumann Resonance is soothing to the human body.

Proponents of “earthing“—the practice of standing barefoot outside—claim that connecting to this frequency can do everything from ease pain and inflammation to lessen cardiovascular risks

The mainstream medical field isn’t convinced just yet: “Most research is done within the alternative medical world and is not regularly discussed among traditional doctors,” Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D. previously told mbg. “The consensus is that it’s not curative, but can be recommended within an integrative plan for mostly preventive but also therapeutic, health management.”

From a neurological perspective, Willeumier thinks it shows promise for relaxing the fatigued mind. “[Schumann Resonance] puts us into the theta brainwave state,” she said. By helping the body ease into this relaxed state, which we also enter when we dream, she believes that nature and its charge can support brain health throughout life.

While not necessarily a medicine on its own, she said that time outdoors should be part of everyone’s brain health regimen. When combined with other mentally healthy habits like hydration and a well-rounded diet, it can help keep our minds sharp as we age.

A neuroscientist’s favorite ways to get outside:

As for what kind of nature is best for the aging brain, Willeumier said “it’s all created equal.” Landscape preference is largely personal, so seeking out whatever environment you have access to—be it a sandy beach, a cacti-clad desert, or a lush forest—will be beneficial.

No matter what landscape lies outside your door, here are some neuroscientist-approved ideas for how to restore yourself in it, body and mind:

Moving your body (or just reading a book) outdoors is one enjoyable activity that’s totally free, accessible to almost everyone, and—according to this neuroscientist—invaluable for brain health.

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