A Little Dirt Won't Hurt

The Case for Getting Dirty with Scientific Research!

Have you experienced that awkward dirty stage when you re-enter society after being on a wild adventure? When you or your kids are the dirtiest people in that rural grocery store? Little did you know, you might be on to something and all your time playing in the dirt may come with rewards further reaching than expected.

As our society trends ever-more toward four wall enclosures; scientists are researching the effects that connecting with nature has on our health. This new research is confirming what we at Sawyer have long suspected; activities in nature decrease stress, streamlines focus, and increases creativity. Being outdoors is giving our brains the rejuvenation needed to process and retain all the information in our over stimulated worlds.  

Our little buddy Gadge in the Gear List Tee

David Strayer is a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah who specializes in attention and focus. He is studying the effects of nature on our brains with backpackers and creative problem solving. The results of the study found that backpackers on a 4 day trip solved creative problems 47 percent more efficiently than the control group. The hypothesis is that nature works to our benefit, restoring depleted attention circuits in our brain. With restored circuits, we are more creative and able to focus because there openness makes brain circuits better at processing. 

Strayer told reporters, “When you use your cell phone to talk, text, shoot photos, or whatever else you can do with your cell phone, you’re tapping the prefrontal cortex and causing reductions in your cognitive resources. If you’ve been using your brain to multitask—as most of us do most of the day—and then you set that aside and go on a walk, without all of the gadgets, you’ve let the prefrontal cortex recover, and that’s when we see these bursts in creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.”

Backpacking in Wyoming

The science is in and even though many other factors like friendship and exercise may have also contributed to the result, many similar studies from around the world are drawing similar conclusions.  In Japan, scientists put on an experiment that split 560 people on two different types of walks. One was in a natural setting and the other in an urban setting. They tracked the blood pressure and heart rates of their many participants finding the nature group’s to be significantly lower compared to the urban group.

More and more of these nature studies on our brains are popping up all over the place and concluding, “Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments,”

Zoey the little explorer in the Sunset Drive Tee

As our world shifts it’s norms to more time on screen, inside, and enclosed; finding restoration for all our minds can be as simple as a walk outside or as elaborate an adventure as you can dream. But the common line we can draw throughout the adventure spectrum is,

  • Get your hands in the dirt,
  • Let your hair be salty,
  • Take big breaths of fresh air, 
  •  and of course, let your child be wild! 

With a spirit of adventure, 

Cindi Lou Grant, The Sawyer Kid Co. 

Published: September 5, 2017

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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Sawyer Kid Co.

Park City

The Sawyer Kid Co. was founded with passion and a touch of nostalgia for our outdoor-centered childhoods. Children are spending less time outdoors and we believe that a strong connection to nature is important. Our ai...