5 Ways Natural Environments Improve Health and Well-being
Each day, you make many choices that affect your well-being for good or bad. Fortunately, there are many habits you can implement each day to consistently improve your health and one of these is to step out into the fresh air for a few minutes each day. Research shows that good health results from a combination of factors and that the natural environment plays a role in those factors. According to the World Health Organization, contact with nature can be directly beneficial to your health. The more you know about how outdoor activities and leisure affects your health, the better able you’ll be to incorporate the natural world into your work, play, and relaxation.
One: Time Outside Boosts Physical Health
Studies show that spending ten minutes a day in a natural environment will lower your blood pressure. Additionally, stress levels fall and mental fatigue decreases when you spend time in natural spaces. Hospital administrators have found that patients with a view of nature are more likely to heal faster than other patients. People who live in green environments tend to suffer less often from circulatory disease. Children who live in areas with a more diverse bacterial life around well-vegetated soils have fewer allergies and a stronger immune system.
Two: Green Spaces Improve Your Mood
Many psychological studies have shown that spending time in nature has a positive impact on overall well-being. Interviewees reported feeling less anxious, depressed, and stressed after spending time outside. Those negative emotions were replaced with calm and balanced feelings. In other studies, employees with a natural view out their window reported greater job satisfaction and lower stress levels, and children with ADHD who spent time in nature exhibited an increased attention span. Green spaces provide a soothing environment for overactive minds and increase the ability to focus.
Three: Natural Environments Lead to Improved Public Health
Green areas, such as parks and gardens, create a healthier environment for those living in cities. For example, trees and shrubs filter pollution and contaminants out of the air. Healthy vegetation absorbs heat, providing a healthy, natural way to regulate temperature and decrease heat-related injuries and illnesses.
As public health care costs in cities decrease, mental health problems also tend to decrease. One suggestion about why this link exists is that when people spend time with each other in green spaces, feelings of loneliness and isolation decrease. Another study shows a link between improved access to natural spaces and a drop in the rate of violent crime.
Four: Outdoor Exercise Plays a Role in Disease Prevention
A number of findings show that people who walk outside for 15 to 30 minutes a day get sick less often, have a greater resistance to cancer, a lower risk of stroke and heart attacks, and improved bone density. Additionally, daily walks outside lead to improved digestion, reduced risk of diabetes, and decreased depression.
Public officials and medical professionals, such as Dr. Rohit Varma, have found that providing communities with access to nature is an effective way to prevent and control injuries, asthma, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and musculoskeletal conditions. In fact, in many areas around the world, incorporating activities in nature is a standard addition to healthcare treatment.
Five: Outside Time Is a Vital Replacement for Time Spent Indoors
Many public health officials are concerned about a rise in the amount of time children spend inside and in front of screens. In fact, the average American youngster spends only four to seven minutes outside while spending about seven hours in front of a screen. This alarming statistic, combined with an increase in prescriptions for ADHD medications and antidepressants in youth, suggests that it’s time for a change. A renewed focus on access to natural environments and the outdoors could result in many physical, mental, and social benefits.
The next time you’re feeling frustrated or anxious, maybe a 10 to 15-minute walk is just what the doctor would suggest. The key to improving your own health and that of your family could be spending an evening together in your backyard or scheduling a weekend activity in the nearest national park.