Scientific studies show that spending more time in nature can improve both mental and physical health. Here’s how…
Are you spending enough time in nature? Research shows that spending time in the natural world can provide a number of health benefits – both for your body and your mind. And no, it doesn’t just have to do with exercise!
A 2009 study from the Netherlands found that those who live in areas with more green space are generally healthier than those who do not – especially when it comes to mental health.
Those who lived near the most amount of greenspace were a third less likely to be treated for anxiety and 20 percent less likely to be treated for depression than those who lived near the least amount of green space.
With this in mind, some counselors are now recommending spending time in nature to those at risk of depression and other mental health disorders.
Even doing simple things like taking a short 15-minute walk outdoors, being mindful of your surroundings and paying attention to the natural sights, smells, and sounds around you can help reduce stress and provide a calming effect.
Here are the interesting findings from several studies on the subject:
• Just five minutes of activity in nature can improve self-esteem and mood, a 2010 analysis of 10 British studies found.
• Walking in nature for 50 minutes prior helped participants perform better on memory-related tasks compared to those who walked in urban environments, a University of Michigan study found.
• Exercising outside has greater benefits than exercising inside. People who engage in “green exercise” have lower blood pressure, higher self esteem and improved mood compared to those who exercise indoors, research shows.
• Patients with access to nature have a speedier recovery from surgery, according to a 1984 study published in Science magazine.
• Diabetic patients who take nature walks have lower blood glucose levels.
• Children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder experience a reduction of symptoms after exposure to the outdoors, according to researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
• Exposure to as little as 20 minutes of nature can make people feel more alive, a researcher from the University of Rochester found. The researcher said this method could be a better way to get energized than a cup of coffee.
• Older adults who spend time outdoors every day have fewer health problems, like aching bones or sleep problems, than those who do not, according to research published in the Journal of Aging Health.
• Spending more time outside is associated with a lower prevalence of nearsightedness in school children, according to a study done in Australia.