A growing chorus of scientists and researchers agree: time spent in nature makes us happier, healthier and less stressed. It increases creativity and lowers risk of heart attacks. It even makes us nicer, more empathetic humans, with more meaningful relationships and increased community involvement.
Check out this great INFOGRAPHIC summarizing the science behind the health benefits of nature.
Evidence shows that being regularly immersed in a natural setting, like a park, wetland or woodlot, reduces blood pressure, anxiety and stress levels and boosts immunity. Simply having a view of nature leads to faster patient recovery times in hospitals and higher job satisfaction and increased concentration in office workers. Outdoor exercise increases energy levels and reduces anger, depression and obesity.
For children, studies show that time outdoors, especially unstructured time in more natural settings, can increase curiosity, creativity and problem solving ability. It also improves their physical fitness and coordination and reduces symptoms associated with attention deﬁcit disorder. It can even reduce the likelihood of needing glasses for near-sightedness.
Studies also demonstrate that nature can have profound effects on entire neighbourhoods or communities by improving job and life satisfaction of residents and aiding community cohesion and identity. It can even reduce violence and bridge the gap in health between high and low-income communities.
Given this amazing array of benefits and our increasing urbanization and isolation from nature, it is essential that we reframe of our traditional view of nature as a place for leisure and sport towards one that emphasizes a full range of physical, mental, and social health benefits.
Keen to learn more? Check out these resources:
Harvard’s Natural Environments Initiative
Children & Nature Network
Parks and Other Green Environments: Essential Components of a Healthy Human Habitat