There are loads of amazing benefits to being out in nature and in this blog I'm going to explore some of them.
We all know the obvious reasons already but I'm also going to share with you some research and some other things you may not have thought of! Being out in nature is good for our bodies and our minds.
• Breathing lungs full of fresh air is great for our respiratory system, getting the oxygen flowing and boosting our cells, strengthening and cleansing us.
• Soaking in some sun rays help Vitamin D to soak in to our bones, helping our immune system and nervous system.
• If we're exercising outside, walking the dog, going for a run, strolling to work, is also better for us than exercising indoors.
• Stress reduction - Taking a break, sitting in the garden, enjoying lunch on a bench, or gardening and spending some time out, relaxing, looking after ourselves and reconnecting or course will have huge benefits too on our emotional health.
As a species we've only really lived the lives we are living today (lives that are full of high rise buildings, working in dark offices, being surrounded by concrete, tarmac and electricity, and an ever expanding world of technology and social media) for the last couple of hundred years. The Industrial Revolution was really not that long ago in the history of man-kind.
Pre-Industrial Revolution we (humans) were working on the land, we were farmers growing crops, farming animals, and spending our time in forests and fields. Look at it that way and it's probably not that shocking the health problems society has today with things like mental health, and obesity levels rising for example. Look at how disconnected we are from nature as a human species.
There has been lots of research done into the physical and mental benefits of being outside.
Research from the University of Michigan, USA looked at the effect of nature on mental fatigue and stress. They found that being in nature helps us to relax, improves our memory, increases our attention spam, and improves cognition. How fantastic is that!?
A University in Japan found that Shinrin-Yoku (translated as forest bathing in English) had a huge impact on our mental and physical health too. They believe that because humans evolved to be in nature that actually this is where we flourish best. The Shinrin-Yoku programme is Japan is great! GP's can refer people into programmes of being outside relaxing! Forest bathing literally means being in nature, sitting, walking and just being in forests. Throughout Japan they have different walks and trails that have equipment within it that can measure blood pressure and monitor heart rates as people are in the forest giving concrete evidence as to how nature is actually physically affecting them.
Stanford University also found that being in nature reduces stress and symptoms of depression.
We can also consider the mindfulness perspective. Being in nature helps us to become present. When walking you need to be aware of the path in front of you so you don't trip up or stand in anything nasty. How often have you been walking and mentioned the view to someone or the sunset? Maybe you've noticed the birds singing or the trees springing to life. This feeling of being present helps us to reconnect with ourselves and what's going on in the world around us. More on this in my next blog!
If you want even more proof that being outside is good for you - research done in Sweden showed that patients who had a view of trees from a hospital window had dramatically increased rates of recovery! If that doesn't show the power of nature I'm not sure what does!
If you've read all that and now fancy a bit of nature in your life, be sure to schedule some in this weekend. I also have a free DIY Mini Retreat you're welcome to download.
Enjoy the outdoors this week!