Bailey, Anderson, and Cox wanted to learn more about the psychological implications of walking. Their work “explores the mechanisms of active and passive leisure influence through real-time tracking of mental states while incurring a standard ‘dose’ of social media and walking. Results indicate that social media induces anxiety and mental focus, while walking enhances relaxation and meditative state.
Support Mental Restoration/Ease Stress
Lee and Yoon studied the effects of natural design elements on the experiences of people waiting in healthcare emergency departments. They report their “findings offer empirical evidence for the positive impact of including natural elements in these waiting areas. We created four high-fidelity virtual environments that incorporated natural elements in three ways, i.e., the presence of plants, the use of nature images and natural materials, and a combination of those two, in addition to a controlled environment without natural elements.
Mental refreshment and energy levels linked
Acoustics driving design-related outcomes
Improving lives wherever it's used
Green spaces where people and nature flourish.
Hooyberg and colleagues studied human responses to being in different sorts of spaces via virtual reality and it seems likely that their findings can also be applied in other settings. The investigators report that “beaches caused lower breathing rates than urban environments and lower SCR [skin conductance responses] than green environments. . . . the heart rate, HF-HRV [high-frequency heart rate variability], and MAP [mean arterial pressure] did not react differently to the beach than to the urban and green environments. . . .
Gaekwad and colleagues probe the effects of natural environments on human stress levels. They report that a meta-analysis they conducted indicated “that natural environments had a small to medium effect on reducing physiological stress, compared to equivalent exposure to urban environments. . . . subgroup analysis indicated that the stress state of participants was not related to the effect of natural environments in reducing human stress, which contradicts one of the foundations of Stress Recovery Theory.
Overbury, Conroy, and Marks’ findings will not come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the research on biophilic design and on humans’ affinity for natural spaces. The Overbury-lead group reports that their literature review determined that “Open water swimming may lead to improvements in mood and wellbeing, reductions in mental distress symptomatology, and was experienced as a positive, enriching process for many.
Design can support learning (and remembering!) new material, whether we’re at work, at school, or somewhere else entirely. Using in practice what neuroscientists have unearthed makes “lessons” more productive and positive educational outcomes more likely.