Recent studies have shown outdoor activities are more than just a nice way for students to spend a day or two — they’re vital to their mental and physical health.
According to a study by Frances “Ming” Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, access to nature and green environments enhances self-discipline and mental health overall.
“In greener settings, we find that people are more generous and more sociable,” Kuo said to EurekAlert.org, an online science news service.
During these last few weeks of class, students often get so buried in work they need something that refreshes them and puts them in the positive mindset to work in the first place.
Not only can outdoor activities help us refocus, they can also improve our school work by lowering our stress levels.
Admittedly, after classes, homework and the internships activities like hiking are probably not at the top of most people’s list.
Still, last Monday, I decided to ditch my bed and blankets and venture to Topanga State Park. In complete and utter solitude, I hiked the Topanga Park Loop, an eight-mile hike offering many scenes of natural beauty.
I realized wandering around Topanga State Park that Kuo was right — nature really does have a positive impact on people.
It might seem like a waste of time, but in the midst of studying for finals and writing term papers, getting out of the city is a worthwhile investment.
During these last crucial weeks, taking a break to experience the outdoors can also increase students’ physical ability to effectively study for finals.
Kuo also found exposure to parks and green environments have a positive impact on physical health. Spending time in green environments can lead to increased cardiovascular capacity as well as improved immune system functions.
In a fast-paced environment, students might not realize the negative impact of living in the middle of an urban city.
Forbes magazine recently ranked Los Angeles as America’s second-most stressful city, finding “22.8 percent of Angelinos reported that their health was less than good.”
If anyone feels compelled to go on a hike during the break between classes and finals, it will be a rewarding experience unlike anything USC’s campus and surrounding sidewalks can offer.
David Morris is a sophomore majoring in English (creative writing).