So, it seems the science boffins have managed to prove what us outdoor lovers have known for ages: spending time in nature does wonders for your health and mental well-being! With everything from reduced stress to improved short term memory, it seems there is a lot to be said for ‘nature therapy’. Here’s why you can safely tell your friends and family that being outdoors is THE way to spend the forthcoming year.
Reason 1: Improved Mental Well-being
Mental health and well-being is on most people’s radars nowadays, and so it should be! As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, so it’s important to replenish your mental health regularly. And, it would seem, nature therapy is one such way of topping up your you-time.
Studies show that being out and about in amongst nature can help with things like:
- Mental fatigue, and re-establishing mental energy: by getting back to restorative environments, your mental health bounces back.
- Stress relief: Time spent in the forest can create lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Concentration: A study by Environment & Behaviour, 1991, proved that a walk in nature can aid concentration.
- Creativity: Spending four days at one with nature can boost your creative problem-solving by up to 50%, according to PLOS ONE, 2012.
Reason 2: Better Vision
A large study has shown that, particularly in children, indulging in outdoor activity can actually reduce the risk of developing short-sightedness (myopia). So now, as well as enjoying those family days out on forest treks and coastal walks, you can also take pride in the fact that you’re probably helping your children’s vision too!
Reason 3: Possible Anti-Cancer Effects
There’s still a fair bit of research needed into the possible effects of time spent in nature aiding cancer, but preliminary studies have started to suggest that spending time in the great outdoors – and in forests in particular – may stimulate the production of anti-cancer proteins.
Furthermore, there seems to be a lasting effect: these proteins may last up to seven days after a relaxing trip into the woods. The perfect excuse, perhaps, to visit our favourite forests more frequently?
Reason 4: Immune System Boost
The same proteins that help us fight cancer when we’ve been indulging in a bit of forest dwelling can also help boost our immune system, a study by Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, 2010 has shown. And a strong immune system allows you to fight off things like colds, flus and minor infections, which can’t be a bad thing.
So, with all this scientific evidence, what better way is there to dust off the winter blues and boost your health at the same time? Get all your kit ready, invest in any bits and pieces you may need to help enhance your escapades and enjoy a little bit of nature therapy in those natural places that we love best…and see the health benefits come rolling in, too!