Science says: being outdoors is officially good for you!


Aside from their sheer stunning beauty, the achievement felt in reaching their summits, and the sense of being close to nature that’s often felt most strongly in the high and wild places, it seems there may actually be a scientific reason why being out in the mountains has such a positive effect on our mental wellbeing: negative ions.

Nature creates these odourless, tasteless, and invisible mood-lifters when air molecules break apart due to sunlight, radiation, and moving air and water. And there’s a healthy mix of all these elements in the mountains. The air circulating around mountain summits, beside a tumbling waterfalls, and even on a wave-crashed shore is is believed (the science is a little fuzzy) to contain tens of thousands of these negative ions.

The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods.
— Ion researcher Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York.

As we breathe, taking lungfuls of fresh air, we inhale these ions and when they reach our bloodstream they are said (like we said, slightly fuzzy) to produce biochemical reactions that can help to alleviate depression, relieve stress and boost energy.

Generally speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy.
— Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of 'The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research'

We also know that the endorphins created through exercise will boost our mood, but it seems that location plays a part too. And out and about in the wild fresh air of the mountains is one of the best places be.

Ben Weeks