Can Spending Time Outdoors Be Promising for Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment?

Spending time with plants, oceans, and mountains is often associated with peace and deep experiences of wellness. People tend to feel rejuvenated and even healed after hiking, swimming in the sea, or going into the yard for a few deep breaths of fresh air. 

Living with Alzheimer’s can be a difficult experience, yet spending time in nature is promising for healing on an emotional and even physical level. Being in nature even seems promising for preventing early signs of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Please note that if you are exhibiting early signs of Alzheimer’s, it is wise to use the BrainTest® app for early screening. 

The Science of Nature’s Brain-Healing Properties

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A groundbreaking study published in April reveals that according to salivary markers, experiences in nature reduce stress biomarkers. Though stress-reduction through nature is well-established, this was the first study that allowed participants to choose the time of day, duration, and place of their exposure to a natural environment.

The study shows notable drops in cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can cause negative health effects. Also, a drop in alpha-amylase is noted, another important marker of stress.

In terms of Alzheimer’s disease— the importance of the above research lies in the brain healing impact of stress-reduction. Stress-reduction techniques have been shown to enhance focus, sensory processing, and even mindfulness within the sensory experience. Such beneficial impacts on the brain are promising for Alzheimer’s since it is now known that chronic stress increases the likelihood of the disease occurring

So How Does Nature Specifically Help Us?

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Plants release chemicals called phytoncides to prevent decay.  They also release them to prevent being eaten by herbivores. Research reveals that these compounds benefit human health. These compounds are entirely scentless and tasteless. Nonetheless, we ingest them when we are in close contact with plants. 

Phytoncides improve our health by reducing stress and anxiety, prolonging sleep, and even protecting the cardiovascular system from the detrimental impacts of stress. 

Plants also release negative air ions, ionization that causes reduced stress, relaxation, and improved mood. 

Overall, these properties of plants reveal promising evidence for treating and even stabilizing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Stress has been shown to exacerbate the disease and lead to the overall progression of the disease. 

How to Get Outside More Often

Spending more time outside is a great way to bring peace and healing into your life. To accomplish this, it is not necessary to travel far to remote locations. A simple walk around your neighborhood will suffice. 

Also, try experiencing the outdoors with friends by hiking or doing other outdoor activities together. This will increase the healing effects of nature by adding a social component that is both rewarding and meaningful. 

Overall, being outside is promising for brain health. By cultivating lifestyle habits that include spending time in nature, you effectively lessen your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

Jacob Lopez is a professional health writer currently working alongside holistic doctors and specializing in neuroenhancement, preventative medicine, and longevity science. Jacob is passionate about the connection between spirituality and the brain, as well as the science surrounding neuroplasticity and brain optimization. While earning his BA in English and Writing from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Jacob worked as a journalist for his university's newspaper where he wrote and published print articles surrounding campus mental health.

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