10 Reasons Why You Should Get Out In Nature
by Steven Bancarz
Nature is where we belong. It’s no coincidence that the minute we get out to a beach, a forest, or a waterfall that we begin to feel better immediately. Nature is more than just eye candy, it is also one of the most powerful medications on the planet. If Big Pharma could start charging people for going out into nature, I’m sure they would. Here are 10 reasons why you should get outside! (after you read this of course..)
1. Nature improves lung and heart health.
In a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers found that people experienced more deaths from heart disease and respiratory disease when they lived in areas where trees had disappeared.
2. Nature lowers stress hormones.
Those who live in the areas with the most amount of green space have lower levels of cortisol (known as the stress-hormone), and their self-reported feeling of stress were lower than those who spent more time in urban settings.
3. Nature increases your creativity.
Spending days in nature, away from electronic devices, is linked with 50 percent higher scores on a test for creativity. The findings provide “a rationale for trying to understand what is a healthy way to interact in the world, and that burying yourself in front of a computer 24/7 may have costs that can be remediated by taking a hike in nature,” says study researcher David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah.
4. Nature is a therapist.
Walking through nature can lower frustration, increase engagement and arousal, and lead to higher concentration and positive emotions.
5. Nature treats disabilities.
ADHD symptoms within children are greatly reduced when in the presence of nature and after doing activities in nature. Findings were consistent across age, gender, and income groups; community types; geographic regions; and diagnoses.
6. Nature helps you sleep better.
Two hours of forest walking improves the following sleep characteristics; impacting actual sleep time, immobile minutes, self-rated depth of sleep, and sleep quality.
7. Nature improves stress management.
Living in a green environment with plants in your home is linked to lower stress reduction and improve stress moderation and management.
8. Nature gives your brain more energy.
Walking through nature decreases brain fatigue. When volunteers walked through urbanized areas with heavy traffic, their brain wave patterns consistently showed that they were more aroused, attentive and frustrated than when they walked through the parkland, where brain-wave readings became more meditative. This study encourages “taking a break from work,” Dr. Roe said, and “going for a walk in a green space or just sitting, or even viewing green spaces from your office window.”
9. Nature improves your mood.
Juyoung Lee of Chiba University found that leisurely forest walks, compared with urban walks, yield a 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a seven percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a 5.8 percent decrease in heart rate. On subjective tests, study participants also report better moods and lower anxiety.
10. Nature fights cancer!
That’s right. Nature walks can even fight disease and cancer by increasing your NK (natural killer) cells that are essentially to the innate immune system. When participants agreed to go on morning and afternoon nature hikes, blood tests showed that their NK cells had increased 40 percent. A month later, their NK count was still 15 percent higher than when they started. By contrast, during urban walking trips, NK levels didn’t change.
Nature also improves your sense of spirituality and your connection with God.
Cleaner air, more vitamin D, and the break from routine are can’t hurt either. In a world that is dominated by pavement and technology, I think we could all use a little more time in places that haven’t been tainted by the hands of man. Get out there!