3 Reasons Nature is Key to a Healthy Mind and Body

Nature is connected to the deepest parts of the human body and soul. Interaction with nature has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, and help aid in disease recovery. Who wants to go for a nature walk?!

I often feel a sense of relief while taking a walk in the park or run outside the city. The intense colors of nature seem to melt my troubles away. It wasn't until I looked deeper into this feeling that I realized we all have a connection with nature. A connection that can not be substituted or modified in any way. Nature is connected to the deepest parts of the human body and soul. I hope you enjoy the 3 reasons we should all interact with nature a little more than we have been in the past. 

#1. Interaction with nature can improve self esteem and mood      We've all heard this before, but exactly how does nature improve mood and self-esteem? A study done in 2005 found that while exercising on a treadmill in a laboratory, individuals mood and self esteem improved when they where shown natural landscapes as opposed to urban landscapes (1). Another study done in 2015 found that individuals who took a 90 minute walk through a natural habitat reported lower activity in the part of the brain associated with the risk of mental illnesses like depression. Simply put, exercising in a natural environment can increase the physical and psychological benefits more than exercising in urban environment (2). Who wants to go for a nature run?

#2. Interaction with nature can reduce stress and mortality      Did you know that having numerous indoor plants near your working environment can decrease stress and improve productivity? Well this is exactly what a study done in 2007 found. This study suggested that having plants in the areas that people work (and not just in the break room) improved a employees productivity and decreased the number of sick days take, even after they had controlled for gender, age, and other workplace factors (3). Another study found that stress recovery was 9-37% faster in individuals experiencing "pleasant nature sounds" rather than noises from an urban landscape. (4) If that isn't astonishing enough, another study found that morality of individuals exposed to a green space differed significantly from those without one. How significantly? An IRR test (incident rate ratio) conducted during the study found that morality rate caused by circulatory disease for individuals living in green areas was almost 1.5x less than individuals living in urban areas (5). Talk about a life-saver.  #3. Interaction with nature can aid in recovery processes      Wait so your telling me that surgical recovery can be improved with nature? Yes. In 2008 a study found that putting plants and flowers in the hospital recovery rooms resulted in patients needing fewer analgesics and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue compared to patients without plants (6). Another study found that 23 patients who were assigned a room with a window looking out at nature had shorter hospital stays, fewer negative comments about their health, and took fewer analgesics than 23 other patients who were assigned rooms facing a brick wall (7). Interaction with nature in the form of camping was also found to decrease relapse rate by 27% in individuals battling substance abuse compared to individuals receiving the customary relapse prevention program (8). 

     There is countless research studies that describe the positive results nature has on our body and minds. Nature interaction is an inexpensive and sustainable way to improve our health. The benefits are numerous and come from just taking  30 minutes out of the day to take a walk in a park. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I look forward to seeing you all outside!

References:  #1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16416750 #2. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567.full #3. http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/42/3/581.full #4.http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= #5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18994663 #6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18994663 #7. https://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/resources/2012/10/ulrich.pdf #8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9751006 Additional: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3709294/#B13-ijerph-10-00913

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