Did you know that nature improves our well-being so much so that studies show that even a fleeting look at a natural object (plant, bird, ant, flower, etc.) can improve our quality of life? Unfortunately, in today’s urban, indoor, sedentary society, most of us are as disconnected from the nature around us as we are from our own physical bodies.
Spending time in nature – the gift that keeps on giving
- Healthy body
- Reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and boost the immune systems
- Delivers a scientifically proven anti-inflammatory effect
- Promotes a healthier microbiome (the beneficial bacteria in our bodies)
- Healthy brain
- More robust amygdala, a portion of the brain that helps process stress
- Enhanced plasticity of the brain, ability to adapt to learn new thing and recover
- Improved brain development & higher cognitive functioning in children with fewer incidences of behavioral and emotional problems
- Helps prevent cognitive decline
- Healthy mind
- Helps combat depression, anxiety, stress and headaches
- Boost creativity and productivity
Scientists found that the “wilder” the setting, the better it is for us. Think forests and coastal areas, but we hardly need scientists to tell us this do we? People have been “taking cures” at the seaside or in the countryside for centuries.
So how do we maximize nature’s positive effects? Yup, you guessed it – get physical in nature. (You are welcome to translate that any way you want – I’m keeping this post PG.) Formal exercise isn’t the end all.
Hiking or walking in nature is the simple Rx for so many of our 21st century ailments. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise–because it’s what comes naturally to us. We are not built to spend our days sitting at our desks, on our couches, or in cars, buses, planes, or trains. We are genetically wired and built for daily, long walks. Our hunter-gather ancestors’ survival depended on daily movement in the natural world (walking, running, climbing, scrambling, swimming, etc,). And our health and well-being today still does.
So what are you waiting for? Get outside and play!
Additional reading : This Popular Science article sums up a couple of the recent studies.