We know that hiking is good for the soul and for the body–and science once again has proven that to be true. In a study that was published by The Journal of Affective Disorders, volunteers suffering from depression who took a 50-minute walk in the woods improved their cognition (the ability to remember strings of numbers was improved greatly), compared to those who walked along city streets. An earlier study found similar results in hiking volunteers that weren’t depressed.
The distractions of nature versus the distractions of city life seem to engage the mind in different ways. “Voluntary” and “involuntary” attention to surroundings makes different emotional and mental demands. Walking in the woods engages “involuntary” attention, lessening the “voluntary” interaction with surroundings, which is the norm in a city environment (and it can be emotionally and mentally draining).
Read more about the study here.