BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Government researchers are trying to find out if being outside in nature really does have a measurable effect on health and well-being.
According to a Department of Defense report, researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences have been working for the past few years on something called the Green Road Project.
There are six Green Road sites nationwide, which are supposed to help researchers “scientifically measure the effects of nature, while providing a tranquil environment for service members and their families,” according to the DOD.
One is being built at on the Naval Support Activity Bethesda.
It “includes a paved pathway that meanders through the wooded area behind USU, leading over to Sanctuary Hall — living quarters for Walter Reed patients and their caregivers during long-term care.”
Patricia Deuster, a professor in USU’s Military and Emergency Medicine Department and director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP), says soon the site will be used to measure the healing effects of those who spend time there, as opposed to on “busier” parts of the base.
They are looking to enroll service members from all branches in the study, as well as wounded warriors and caregivers, and others who can access the base.
To help determine nature’s effects, participants will have their heart rate and sweat monitored, complete questionnaires and be interviewed about their experiences on the path.
“Our hope is to show that nature does have an effect on the population and caregivers,” Deuster said.
But the path will also be available for people to simply enjoy.
“It’s a place where you can go and recover, restore who you are … forget about the stressors of life for a moment, and just allow your body to relax and regenerate,” she added.