Proponents of natural fitness have long been interested in the idea of biophilia, the innate human desire to affiliate with natural landscapes and living systems. Intuitively, this idea makes perfect sense, but the research on biophilia has been rather sparse. Some studies show that hospital patients recover faster when exposed to nature views, for example, but more work is needed in this area. Last week we found confirmation of the biophila hypothesis on Jonah Lehrer's blog, The Frontal Cortex. In a post called "Nature and Compassion," Lehrer cites a study that found increased pro-social behavior in natural settings. This makes great sense from two perspectives: On the one hand, natural environments calm the body. Neuromuscular and sensory systems operate most effectively in their natural context; of course the body would relax and become more social in its ancestral setting. But if we isolate the body from the natural world (by incarceration in buildings, cubicles and vehicles), our bodies lose their normal reference points: anxiety, depression and anti-social behavior become more likely.
This is yet one more argument for getting out of the gym. If we're really interested in developing the totality of human potential, the best place to do it is outdoors.
Thanks to Jason Atwood at Playthink for finding this!