12 Reasons Why Spending Time in Nature is Important
Humans have always instinctively known that spending time in nature is good for us. When we’re stressed by the pressures of modern living, taking the dog for a walk, going for a jog in the park or simply spending some time in the garden can help us unwind. A weekend away by the sea or in the countryside can also see us return to our lives totally refreshed and reinvigorated.
And while we’ve always instinctively known about the healing power of nature, there is now a growing body of scientific evidence to substantiate that belief. Researchers are revealing through a variety of studies that nature can benefit us both mentally and physically, and the following are 12 of their most startling findings.
How we can benefit from nature
According to scientific research, spending time in nature can result in;
- Improved short-term memory – Participants in a study who took a walk amongst trees performed 20% better in a memory test than those who walked down a city street.
- Restored mental energy – Research has shown that merely looking at pictures of nature can restore energy lost through mental fatigue.
- Reduced stress – Several studies have indicated that spending time in nature can lower our heart rate and reduce our levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol.
- Improved vision – There is a large body of evidence showing that outdoor activity helps to protect children’s eyes and reduce their risk of developing myopia (short-sightedness).
- Better concentration – Participants in a study who took a walk in nature performed better in a proofreading task than those who took a walk through the city.
- Improved creativity – Participants in a study who were immersed in nature for four days improved their performance on a creative problem solving test by 50%.
- Resistance to cancer – While more research is needed in this area, some studies have shown that spending time in nature could stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins in the body.
- Boosted immune system – While more research is also needed here, studies to date have indicated that exposure to forest environments could benefit the human immune function.
- Improved mental health – Research is showing that spending time in nature can reduce anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
- Lower blood pressure – Research has shown that exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays found in sunlight releases a compound called nitric oxide, which lowers blood pressure.
- Activation of Vitamin D – Sunlight on the skin also activates Vitamin D, which our bodies need to help prevent osteoporosis and cancer.
- Greater longevity – Demographic and geographical studies show there is a strong association between access to nature and living a longer, healthier life.
So, why aren’t we reaping the benefits?
Given that spending time in the great outdoors has so many health benefits, why are so few of us actually doing it? The reason is because of our modern way of living. As modern civilisation has developed, we have become increasingly disconnected from nature.
Whereas earlier civilisations were immersed in nature, walking, sitting and sleeping on the earth and cultivating their land with their bare hands, today we have surrounded ourselves with artificial surfaces and materials.
We insulate ourselves from the earth with leather on our feet and rubber on our cars, we sleep in beds and homes that are raised off the ground and our environment is full of plastics, synthetic fabrics, vinyl, asphalt, concrete and tar. And to top it all off, we bathe ourselves in a sea of man-made electronic radiation from household appliances, wi-fi and mobile phone towers.
For many of us, nature is now something we see out of the window or when we go on holiday, rather than something that is a part of our daily lives.
How to spend more time in nature
So, what can we do about it? How can we spend more time in nature when we are so busy shielding ourselves from the natural world? The answer could be in the little things.
- Earthing – This is a philosophy about reconnecting with the earth’s energy. It can be realised through something as simple as taking off your shoes and walking barefoot in your backyard. According to the principles of earthing, this contact with the earth causes free electrons to be taken up into your body, which can help to heal the damage caused by an artificial lifestyle.
- Reducing your footprint – Making conscious decisions about the products you use is another less obvious way of getting closer to nature. An example is choosing natural household cleaning products such as vinegar, lemon, salt and baking soda, which are all as effective as chemical cleaners without the negative environmental impacts.
- Living as close to nature as possible – While not all of us have the time or money to live by the sea or in the forest, we can choose to live closer to nature wherever we are. The back yard is a natural environment, so simply designing your home to embrace the indoor/ outdoor lifestyle can be all that is required. Today’s modern fly screen and bi-fold door designs mean you can spend more time in nature without having to invite nature into your home in the form of flies, bugs and creepy crawlies. Contact the experts at Artilux today and discover how you can bring the outdoors inside, without the pests.
Enjoying the beauty of nature
Even if it’s just having a view of a tree from your office or sitting on a park bench in your lunch hour, we should all try to live more in nature. Because if the scientists are to be believed, doing so could make us healthier, smarter, more well-adjusted, more resistant to disease, and more likely to enjoy a longer and happier life.