Outdoor enthusiasts have long known that a weekend in the woods relieves anxiety and lifts the mood, and now there’s scientific evidence to back it up.
University of Colorado Boulder has released a study showing injections of the soil bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae not only made mice more resilient to stress, but also reduced system wide inflammation. The study has been found to be one of the “top ten advancements and breakthroughs” of 2016. There have also been previous studies showing that M. vaccae increases serotonin in the prefrontal cortex, which modulates anxiety.
Researches suspect the “hygiene hypothesis” is at play. The theory suggests that modern sanitizers, use of antibiotics, and dietary factors have reduced exposure to these types of bacteria, and reintroducing them could help quell a host of inflammatory diseases – including psychiatric disorders.
This is no surprise to us, as we know we feel better when outdoors. So the next time you are feeling stressed and depressed, unplug, grab your gear and get outside!