Getting Down and Dirty

Blog, Happinesson August 13th, 2010No Comments

In the gardenDirt is good. It makes you happier. It improves learning ability, improves memory, makes for better moods and feelings of wellbeing, and reduces anxiety. How’s that for a concept?

More accurately and specifically, it’s the natural soil bacteria mycobacterium vaccae that is considered of benefit. The bacteria are likely to be ingested or breathed in while participating in outdoor activities such as gardening. The bacteria increases serotonin levels, at least in mice. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that affects mood and feelings of wellbeing.  Serotonin improves learning and decreases anxiety.

Researchers believe people may experience the same benefits when they participate in outdoor activities where natural soil bacteria are present. The researchers also speculated how the school learning environment could be enhanced by children spending more time outdoors as this may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks.

So this weekend, spend some time in the garden or biking through the forest – weather permitting. And schools – think how you could use this information to improve the learning of children.  I am sure there are many boys in particular who would learn better just from being able to be outside digging in the dirt, independently of bacteria.

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