When was the last time you spent time outside and enjoyed the benefits of nature?
A study found that most people spent a mere half-day outside each week. If you’re struggling to remember or you’ve realised that it’s been a while, you should consider shaking this up, read on to find out why.
Regular time spent outside in nature is key to a healthy lifestyle. Technology is improving in leaps and bounds to the point where we can experience other worlds from the comforts of our living room through virtual reality, but it will never be able to recreate the wonderful benefits the outside has to offer us.
Here are the key benefits of nature.
It helps to reduce stress
Nature has been found to have a calming quality on our stress levels. Beautiful natural surroundings and scenery can feel like worlds away from our home and work life and consequently causes us to put any associated stress on the back burner. A study explored the effect of nature on the stress hormone cortisol. The study focused on two separate groups of students, one group remained in the city whilst the other group was taken on a hiking and camping venture on a break from school. Lower levels of cortisol were found in the students who took part in the hiking and camping experience.
It builds our focus
Actively getting outside breaks up our working day, which for the vast majority takes part indoors whether it be an office, classroom or vehicle. Being inside for too long can cause us to become overwhelmed, particularly as a lot of our work takes place face-to-face with a computer screen which can have a negative effect on our focus levels.
Several studies have supported the notion that outdoor activities helps to attune our attention and focus levels. One study tasked three separate groups with a proofreading assignment after experiencing different activities, these included a walk through the city, a walk out in nature and relaxing indoors. The group who took a walk out in nature performed the best on the task. A separate study carried out in Finland found that students who engaged in outdoor activities tended to gain better academic achievements.
It could help support the immune system
Our immune systems improve when we face different environments, when we stay in one environment it can become somewhat stuck – it thrives from a challenge. A study carried out in Japan found the number of white blood cells in adults after a weekend trip to a forest increased. White blood cells play a key role in the immune system – they fend off unwelcome antibodies and diseases.
This study proves that a stride out into nature can help to strengthen the immune system.
It positively impacts physical health
The very act of walking, cycling or running in nature has a positive impact on our physical health. On the one hand you’ll be exposed to the wonders of vitamin D from the sunlight, on the other hand the rough and ready terrain forces you to work harder than you would on a flat treadmill or tarmacked running track; this consequently burns more energy.