Embracing the great outdoors cuts down on mental rumination and can boost well-being in the process. Erman Misirlisoy, PhD
This morning my intuition told me to skip the gym and spend time in nature. I exercised my body by walking. I believe I also enhanced my overall health by reducing my mental workload and taking a break from making decisions. Although my intuition is usually spot on, we now have the research to prove the benefits of spending time in nature.
Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, writes, “Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood. We gathered evidence from over 140 studies involving more than 290 million people to see whether nature really does provide a health boost.”
The team analyzed how the health of people with little access to green spaces compared to that of people with the highest amounts of exposure. They found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, and increases sleep duration. People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. They also determined that exposure to green space significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol — a physiological marker of stress.
The research team hopes that their findings will prompt doctors and other healthcare professionals to recommend that patients spend more time in green space and natural areas. Whether it’s a visit to a park, a walk on the beach, or a hike in the woods, make it a priority to regularly spend time in nature.
Affirmation: I spend time in nature.
Coaching question: How important is it to you to spend time in nature? How does being in nature make you feel? If you are rarely exposed to nature, what’s keeping you away?