Spending Time in Nature
Written by: Natalie Johnston
I am sure almost everyone has been told by a parent, teacher, or doctor at some point that spending time outdoors is good for you.
It’s not just a myth; being outside really is good for you!
Do you ever find yourself feeling calmer, more relaxed, or more focused after spending time in nature? That is likely because living close to nature and spending time in nature has significant and wide-ranging health benefits! It is a great way for wellness seekers who want to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and too much screen time.
Health benefits include:
- Improved Emotional Health: people who have more contact with nature report experiencing greater happiness, well-being, life satisfaction and reduced feelings of social isolation.
- Improved Mental Health: by reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. Evidence shows that just being in a natural setting lowers our heart rates and blood pressure. What you see, hear, and experience in nature can improve your mood in a moment.
- Increased Physical Activity: when in nature, we are motivated to participate in physical activity as the setting increases enjoyment and escapism from everyday life.
- Better Sleep: a two-hour walk in the woods is enough to improve sleep quality and help relieve sleep problems. Sleeping away from artificial light and waking up with natural sunlight can reset your circadian rhythm, which will help you feel refreshed.
- Better Brain Function: spending more time outdoors is linked to improved concentration, mental clarity, and more creativity!
- Improved Air Quality and a Vitamin D Boost: it’s no secret spending more time outside will help you soak up the sun. Vitamin D is essential for bone growth and helps regulate your immune system.
The benefits of spending time in nature go far beyond this list. Here’s a friendly reminder to enjoy nature first hand instead of through your screen!
How much time in nature is enough?
Spending at least two recreation hours in nature throughout the week leads to significantly greater health and well-being. This pattern holds true across all populations, including older adults and people with chronic health problems. The effects are the same whether you get your dose of nature in a single 120-minute session or spread out over the week.
Don’t wait, NSTEPpers! Go get some fresh air!
Challenge yourself to find ten minutes a day to be outdoors. Walk your dog, call a friend, set a walking meeting, move your workout outdoors, or simply explore nature’s peacefulness. Whether you visit a garden, park, beach, or pond, nature and all its benefits are out there waiting for you.
- Frumkin, Howard, et al. “Nature Contact and Human Health: A Research Agenda.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 31 July 2017, ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP1663.
- White, Mathew P., et al. “Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing.” Scientific Reports 9.1 (2019): 1-11.