Get healthy. Get outside.
Wild spaces aren’t just good for nature, they’re also good for us. Numerous studies have shown that spending time outdoors is really great for your health. It lowers stress levels, anxiety, the likelihood of developing heart disease and diabetes, and it bolsters the immune system.
A new study published in February of this year looked at finding ways of helping college students improve their mental health and concluded that as little as ten minutes a day outdoors can have significant positive effects on mental well-being. The researchers “found that 10-50 minutes in natural spaces was the most effective to improve mood, focus and physiological markers like blood pressure and heart rate.” Furthermore, it is not necessary to run a gruelling 10k through the woods; simply walking or even sitting is enough to achieve the benefits.
But students are not the only ones who are helped by the healing properties of nature. Studies have found that middle-aged men especially benefited from decreased stress, blood pressure, improved heart-rate variability and lower cortisol levels. Time spent in nature also improved their mood.
Children also benefit. A study done with 300 children between the ages of 9 and 12 found that those who had a stronger connection to nature were more likely to help other people, care for the environment, believe in equality and score higher on happiness scales. Some researchers believe that many children have “nature deficit disorder” because of how little time they spend outdoors. This, they believe, leads to things like attention deficit problems, stress, anxiety and obesity. Research has also found that time outdoors improves children’s ability to learn.
One study found that maximal benefits are achieved by spending between 120 and 200 minutes a week in natural settings. Doctors now recognize that spending time in nature reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and allergies while increasing your life expectancy!
Given how beneficial it is and how easy it is, why wouldn’t we want to spend time outdoors? So take the doctor’s advice: two hours of nature a week for a healthier, happier you.