A literal breath of fresh air is known to make people feel better, so researchers from the University of Utah have set out to determine why.
The team is hoping the findings could provide better therapeutic help for veterans of the armed forces and their families. The researchers recently received $750,000 to "study the restorative, health-promoting benefits of the outdoors on veterans and their families" from the Kendeda Fund, according to the university.
Kelly Bricker, one of the study's lead investigators, said that while multiple programs around the U.S. use outdoor recreation as a form of therapy for veterans, there hasn't been a lot of research to indicate why it seems to work.
"We know it happens, but we don't understand how it happens or the dosage necessary to really make a positive change," she said in a statement.
The team will spend the next three years working on the project, partnering with multiple not-for-profit organizations to engage veterans in outdoor activities like river running, mountain climbing, hiking, camping and sightseeing.
"We want to examine the prospect of nature's healing powers across activities and across settings to determine if certain situations yield better results than others," lead investigator Daniel Dustin said in a statement.
The state of Utah is well-known for being an outdoor playground. It recently ranked No. 10 for running and No. 8 for biking activity, according to data from the fitness app Strava.
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