Did you know that being in nature has a positive impact on your health? Sure, people always talk generally about how it’s good for your well-being. But it’s been shown in scientific studies that being in nature is good for you and your body; it improves your health!
So, you might ask, how exactly does it help? Being in nature lowers your blood pressure. It increases the rate of healing & improves your immune system functioning. It also eases your anxiety and reduces stress hormone levels. And that’s on top of the benefit of getting exercise while going for a nature walk.
Being outside naturally improves your mood. It increases feelings of calm and lessens aggression. It improves self-esteem and makes you feel less isolated. For some people, getting exposure to sunlight can help ease symptoms of depression and seasonal affective disorder.
mental and cognitive health
It’s also been shown that being in nature sharpens your brain by improving memory and attention levels. It can also improve your cognitive flexibility. One study found that green spaces near schools promote cognitive development in children. It’s believed that being in nature shores up your brain’s cognitive resources, improving your ability to concentrate and pay attention.
what to do
Researchers say that people just aren’t getting enough quality time outside. Now the operative word here is “quality.” This means actual immersive time outside, being surrounded by it, in order to get the full effect. And you really need at least 2 hours a week. Hiking and camping in the wild, away from the city, is perfect.
But, it’s not always easy to get away, so parks and trails in urban areas are a great way to escape as well. Outdoor or green roof classrooms are also becoming more common. Looking at nature, watching a video, or listening to nature sounds just won’t have the same impact (although all of those activities are beneficial – something’s better than nothing!).
Some say it’s no longer just nice to have, it’s essential for all of us. In Japan, they call this “forest bathing.” Doctors are starting to “prescribe” it as a way to improve overall health. Get out there and enjoy nature – it’s good for you!
Sources: Yale Environment 360; American Psychological Association.