As adventure travel enthusiasts, our love of nature comes with the territory. But when asked what the health benefits of nature are, you may not be able to immediately express it in words. We all know the feeling of standing in the middle of a lush green forest, hiking up the side of a majestic mountain, or kayaking on crystal clear waters. You just feel… good. And even if you’re engaged in a strenuous activity, you still have a sense of calm and relaxation.
There have been numerous studies conducted over the years to identify what the specific health benefits of nature are. Here are our top five:
- It is a stress-reducer. Levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our mood, rises when we are outside. One study found that regular outdoor runners were less anxious and depressed than people who ran indoors on a treadmill. They also experienced more of a “runner’s high” or higher levels of post-exercise endorphins, which is a natural stress buster.
- It improves cognitive brain function. Being outdoors can significantly improve your ability to focus and helps you get over mental fatigue. A study published in The Journal of Attention Disorders found that children were able to concentrate better after a walk outdoors in a natural setting when compared to walks in other settings. Though urban settings can still be nice, they still provide additional stimulus or distractors that your brain has to process.
- It can help you stay healthier as you age. According to a study conducted by the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center, elderly participants who went outdoors on a daily basis reported significantly fewer complaints of aches and pains and sleeping problems over a period of seven years as they continued to age.
- It improves our psychological state. In short, nature makes us happy! Numerous research studies have shown that spending time outside has measurable benefits to our mental health and well-being. Spending even a few minutes outside in a park has both short- and long-term positive mental health benefits.
- It can help you get a good night’s sleep. We all have an internal body clock that aligns with circadian rhythms. If you spend too much time indoors in artificial light and away from natural light, your circadian rhythm can get thrown off, causing you to have a disrupted sleep pattern. Exposure to natural light in the early morning has been shown to recalibrate your body and get your sleep pattern back on track.
Still not sure if nature is right for you? Check out NatureRx‘s fun spoof commercial promoting the benefits of getting outdoors.
Now enough reading – get out there and get some nature!