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Quick Checkup | What’s new on the health beat Study: Spending time in nature helps creativity

  • Published Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, at 10:11 p.m.

If you’re looking to spark your creativity, leave your smartphone, laptop and tablet at home and go for a hike.

That’s the finding of a recent study by psychologists at the University of Kansas and the University of Utah. The study of 56 people found that backpackers scored 50 percent better on a creativity test after being in nature for four days, disconnected from electronic devices.

The results may seem obvious, but study co-author David Strayer of the University of Utah said the study is important because it proves that interacting with nature has measurable benefits.

The study focused on 56 people who went on four- or six-day hiking trips with the Outward Bound expedition school in Alaska, Maine, Colorado and Washington. The participants, who averaged 28 years old, were not allowed to bring electronic devices.

Their scores in the creativity test were higher after they spent time in the wilderness.

The study proves that the effect of being in front of a computer all day, every day can be offset a bit by spending time in nature, researchers said.

The study’s participants were about evenly divided between men and women.

Earlier studies have shown that children spend only 15 to 25 minutes outdoors daily and that outdoor recreation has declined over the past 30 years. People ages 8 to 18 spent more than 7.5 hours daily watching TV or using cellphones or computers.

Researchers say this study was unique in that it tested people in nature after prolonged periods outdoors rather than testing them in a lab after a short time in nature.

Associated Press

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