Can a Walk in the Park Increase Happiness?

By Brad Bell

Parks are beautiful and tranquil places.  Consequently, a walk in a park might foster greater happiness. In their second study, Hartig, Mang, and Evans (1991) had participants either take a walk in a park, a walk in an urban setting, or read magazines for forty minutes in a laboratory setting (relaxation condition).  All the participants completed tasks for 40 minutes that were intended to produce cognitive fatigue. These tasks occurred prior to taking the walk or the relaxation condition.   They found that overall happiness was somewhat higher for people who took a walk in the park than for people who took a walk in the urban setting or participated in the relaxation condition.  They reported that the natural environment group differed significantly from the other two group with respect to overall happiness. (1) These findings may have some important implications.  A walk in a park may foster greater happiness than a walk in an urban setting or just relaxing (e.g., reading a magazine).

Notes

1.  See their article for more information about the study and other findings.

References

Hartig, T., Mang, M., & Evans, G. W.  (1991).  Restorative effects of natural environment experiences.  Environment and Behavior, 23, 3-26.