Have you ever walked through a park or a row of trees in your neighbourhood and found yourself feeling instantly more relaxed and upbeat? Well you are not alone. Scientists have been researching this invigorating “super-power” of nature and found that there are in fact multiple health benefits to spending time outdoors.
Amongst the arsenal of benefits of spending time in nature are improvement to memory and focus, reduction in levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and levels of anxiety and depression, as well as noticeable relief in mental fatigue. Spending time outside is not only a great way of getting some precious Vitamin D, which is known to help combat various health issues such as depression, osteoporosis and heart disease, it is also an invitation to get your body moving even if it is just for a short, relaxing walk. According to an article in Business Insider which cites several studies on health benefits of being outdoors, spending time outside is also found to help lower blood pressure. The de-stressing effect of the outdoors coupled with exercising means that being outside in nature encourages and allows us to engage in more heart-healthy behaviour.
However, while exercising outside is certainly associated with better physical and mental health, a recent study shows that being around nature by itself can make us feel loads better. A 2017 University of British Columbia study explores the link between looking at something in nature versus looking at human-made objects and how people feel afterwards. It was found that looking at things in the natural environment made people feel much happier and more connected to others than looking at human-made objects.
As spring revs to full gear and nature begins to wake after its winter slumber, there is no reason not to spend more time outside and take advantage of the wonderful, healing properties of nature. In the coming months, make it a priority to spend more time walking, exercising, or simply relaxing outside with a friend or loved one and try to become more mindful of how that makes you feel.
Loria, K. (2018). “Being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure”. Retrieved from www.businessinsider.com.
“Spending time outdoors is good for you, from the Harvard Health Letter” (2010). Retrieved from www.health.harvard.edu.
Wellborn, P. (2017). “Science confirms you should stop and smell the roses”. Retrieved from www.news.ok.ubc.ca.