Imagine this homepage image. A lush green field of grass, colourful flowers and only the sounds of birds chirping. Ah.
Have you noticed that you feel good when you’re out and about in nature? It turns out that there’s a reason for this.
Research has found that being regularly exposed to nature can affect your health for the better. Your body is sensitive to your environment. What you see or hear can affect your mood and body systems (nervous, immune, and endocrine).
Here’s how improving your health can literally be a walk in the park.
Improves your social wellbeing
A study by the University of Illinois found that residents of public housing who lived in areas surrounded by trees and other greenery felt a greater sense of belonging. They were close with their neighbours and involved in their communities. There was also less violence and a stronger sense of community in the area.
It improves your physical health
Research has found that being in most natural settings and even just looking at pictures of nature helps lower stress hormone levels. This also helps to lower blood pressure, tension in the muscles and heart rate. A study published in the journal Preventative Medicine, revealed that nature also helps to improve sleep.
It soothes you
If you’re feeling any sort of pain, go for a walk or sit in a park, because nature helps you cope with pain. A study by physician Robert Ulrich, was done with patients who had gallbladder surgery. Some of the patients had a view of trees and others could only see a wall. According to the results, the patients who had the trees as a view were able to handle the pain after surgery better than those with the wall as a view. This could be because as humans, it’s in our genes to find nature soothing and healing. It also provides a distraction from pain.
It improves your mental health
Besides improving your physical health, nature can change negative emotions to positive ones and help you cope with psychological disorders. A study published in the journal Mind, found that 95% of people with disorders like depression, anxiety and stress who regularly spent time outside, had fewer symptoms of depression.
It helps build your attention span
If you’re struggling to retain information or pay attention, a dose of the great outdoors may help. Research published in Psychological Science, shared that just one hour of being in nature increased memory and attention span by up to 20%. In a study, a group of fatigued people were shown images of different environments and given tests. Participants who saw images of trees, mountains and lakes performed better on the tests than those who were shown images of buildings.