You knew it deep down – but now you have it confirmed by scientists: being surrounded by nature is great for your health. In yet another inspiring infographic from happiness company Happify, you can learn about the myriad of ways in which being out and about in nature will boost your health and wellbeing.
- Simply observing the beauty of nature results in the body producing lower levels of “pro-inflammatory cytokines" which leads to a “healthier state” of being
- Just 5 minutes of exercising in nature improves mental health
- Taking a walk in nature was found, in one study, to reduce the symptoms of depression by a staggering 71%, such is nature’s positive effect on our mental state
- Getting involved in “green activities” such as gardening was shown in one study to significantly boost the wellbeing of nearly 70% of participants
- Studies have shown that exercising outside is a more effective way of reducing tension and negative emotions than exercising indoors
- One hour spent in nature has been shown to boost memory and concentration by up to 20%
The Restorative Effects of Nature
Scientists Kaplan and Kaplan spent over two decades researching the restorative effects of nature. Their research identifies four reasons why nature is so important to our state of being, summarised here:
- In nature, we have a sense of being apart from the day to day stresses of life
- Nature helps us to put things into perspective
- Being in nature stimulates our senses
- The natural world makes us feel that we are in a nurturing and harmonious environment
Indeed, numerous studies have examined the beneficial effects of nature. One study demonstrated that viewing natural scenes not only promoted health-oriented behaviours, but also reduced the desire to engage in unhealthy behaviours such as smoking.
Another study suggests that having access to nature can promote healing. The study (Ulrich, 1984) looked at the effects of showing hospital patients natural scenes through their hospital window. Those able to see the scenes (as opposed to those who had no window) were discharged faster from hospital and were regarded as more “cooperative” by staff. Still another study, by the same researcher, showed that exposure to scenes of nature had a positive effect on markers of health such as blood pressure.
If you’re feeling sluggish or uninspired; if you’re stressed or feeling low; why not go for a walk in nature? The chances are that you don’t need a doctor: a walk out and about in nature could be the perfect prescription for you.