That nature boosts your well-being may be surprising to some. Who doesn’t enjoy a walk outdoors in nature? Yet, even though nature settings are less accessible to city-dwellers, there are ways to find them. Nature has multiple benefits for your well-being.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”John Muir
Nature Boosts Your Well-Being: 10 Amazing Ways
Just how nature boosts your well-being is now documented by research. Still, not everyone has greenspace nearby. More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. That proportion is projected to increase to 70 percent by 2050.
Despite many benefits of urbanization, studies show:
- The mental health of urban dwellers is negatively affected by their city environment.
- Anxiety and mood disorders are more prevalent, with growing incidence of schizophrenia.
- Finding that bit of green space in cities or spending time in nature visiting rural areas may do more than provide a temporary escape from concrete, steel and glass. Furthermore, nature activities greatly help in fighting stress, as this handy resource guide shows.
Creativity and problem-solving improve by being in nature.
Have you ever been stumped, unable to arrive at an important decision? Most people have. It isn’t coincidence that being in nature can result in a subsequent creativity surge or suddenly discovering solutions to a problem. Beyond that, according to 2012 research published in PLoS One, spending time in nature helps your brain functioning.
Other research published in Landscape and Urban Planning found that more brain assists with natural green space exposure:
- Complex working memory span improved.
- Decreased anxiety and rumination occurred after time in nature.
Nature boosts your well-being: Interacting with nature may help those with depression.
Research in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2012 suggests that those with major depressive disorder who took 50-minute walks in nature showed significant memory increase compared to urban walkers. The nature walk group also show increased mood. Yet, the effects do not correlated with memory, leading researchers to suggest that other mechanisms may be involved.
Green exercise may lower anxiety levels.
Exercise is a universal recommendation to improve overall health and well-being. Recent studies focusing on the benefits of green exercise show how it reduces anxiety. Researchers find that green exercise produces moderate short-term reductions in anxiety. Furthermore, those who feel they are exercising in more natural environments enjoy even greater anxiety reduction.
Children and the elderly may lower stress visiting urban and rural green space.
Stress relief of stress is an ongoing goal for millions of people living in urban areas. Access to parks, playgrounds, gardens and other green areas in cities can help improve the health of children and the elderly.
- For immediate stress relief, enjoy the simple pleasures of being in nature.
Nature boosts your well-being: Gardening reduces stress.
Gardening can produce more than food, pleasing plants, and landscaping. Working in the garden also helps reduce acute stress. So says the research from Van Den Berg and Custers (2011) who find reduced levels of salivary cortisol and improved mood following gardening.
A nature walk may help your heart.
Being in nature helps improve cardiovascular function, scientists say. This is due to the association between improved effects and heat reduction from natural environments in urban areas.
- Other research found that walks in nature reduce blood pressure, adrenaline, and noradrenaline and that such protective effects remain after the nature walk concludes.
- Japanese researchers in a study published in 2011 suggested that regular forest walks benefit the heart and metabolism.
- Another Japanese study of forest-bathing middle-aged males found significantly reduced pulse rate and urinary adrenaline. The men also had significantly higher vigor and reduced levels of depression, anxiety, confusion, and fatigue.
Nature boosts your well-being: Green exercise improves mood and self-esteem.
A 2012 study published in Perspectives in Public Health finds significant self-esteem and mood improvement after exercising in nature. All of the individuals had mental health issues. Researchers suggest that combining exercise, social components, and nature in future programs may help promote mental healthcare.
Previous research by Barton and Pretty (2010) finds that men and women had higher self-esteem after green exercise.
- Yet, the greatest improvements were among those with mental illness.
- The youngest participants had the biggest boost in self-esteem, with effects diminishing with age.
- Mood, on the other hand, changed least with the young and the old.
A green living environment improves general health perception.
Not everyone lives in a natural environment, where abundant trees and open space provide relief from everyday stress and a convenient outlet for exercise. However, the addition of thoughtfully planned open spaces in urban environments can add to city dwellers’ perceptions of their general health. That’s according to 2006 research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Nature can improve quality of life for older adults.
As adults age, they often experience diminished quality of life due to medical issues and mental health concerns. In a 2015 study published in Health and Place, researchers find that nature produces an influential and nuanced effect on the lives of older adults.
- Further, they suggest that a better understanding of how seniors experience both health and landscape will help in devising ways to get them out in nature. The end goal is a higher quality of life.
Natural environments promote women’s emotional health and well-being.
A sedentary lifestyle in urban environments is linked with poor mental health among women. Yet, to boost overall emotional health and well-being, this requires more than getting up from the desk in the office and taking a quick walk outside. Increasing evidence shows that public access to natural environments helps women calm stress and anxiety. Nature access also improves clarity, reassurance, and emotional perspective.