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Nature's Prescription: The Vital Importance of Embracing the Outdoors

Nature's Prescription:

The Vital Importance of Embracing the Outdoors

Did you know that time spent in nature can benefit your health? As humans, we have an innate connection to nature. Whether it's the sound of birds chirping, the smell of fresh pine trees, or the feeling of the sun on our skin, nature has a profound impact on our well-being. It's no wonder that spending time in nature has been proven to improve our health in a multitude of ways. In this blog, we'll explore how time in nature can benefit our mental and physical health, lower blood pressure, increase vitamin D levels, lower mortality rates, and combat obesity. 

Mental Health

One of the most significant benefits of spending time in nature is its impact on mental health. Research has shown that spending time in green spaces can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. Exposure to nature has been shown to lower cortisol levels, a hormone linked to stress, while also increasing endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Whether you're hiking through a forest, taking a dip in a natural pool, or simply sitting under a tree, being in nature can help you feel more relaxed and centered.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death worldwide. Fortunately, spending time in nature can help lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that exposure to natural settings can reduce blood pressure in both healthy individuals and those with hypertension. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that spending time in nature for just 30 minutes a week can lower blood pressure levels. So, if you're looking to lower your blood pressure, spending time in nature might be just what the doctor ordered.

Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, many people don't get enough vitamin D, which can lead to a host of health problems, including osteoporosis, diabetes, reduced immune function, and cancer. Spending time in nature can help boost your vitamin D levels. Just 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight (sans sunscreen- you can put in on after) can produce enough vitamin D for the day. So, next time you're feeling low on energy, try taking a walk outside during your lunch break or spending some time gardening in the sun.

Mortality Rates

Believe it or not, spending time in nature can even help you live longer. According to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, exposure to green spaces is associated with lower mortality rates. The study found that people who live in areas with more green spaces have a lower risk of dying from any cause, including cancer, respiratory disease, and cardiovascular disease. So, if you want to live a long and healthy life, it's time to start planning your next outdoor adventure.

Obesity Rates

Obesity rates have been on the rise for decades, with more than 40% of American adults considered obese. Fortunately, spending time in nature can help combat obesity. Studies have shown that people who spend time in natural settings are more likely to engage in physical activity, such as hiking, biking, and swimming. Not only does physical activity help burn calories, but it also has a host of other health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. So, if you're looking to improve your fitness and body composition, why not take a hike or go for a swim in a nearby lake?

The weather is getting better by the day around here so it’s time to get outside and enjoy the health benefits that come with it. Whether you're taking a walk in the park or planning a multi-day backpacking trip, make sure to prioritize time in nature. Not only will it improve your health, but it's also a great way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with the natural world. Bonus points if you spend some time barefoot and try grounding!




References:

  1. White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3
  2. https://namica.org/blog/mental-health-benefits-of-nature/#:~:text=Access%20to%20nature%20has%20also,sense%20of%20meaning%20to%20life.
  3. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/spend-time-in-nature-to-reduce-stress-and-anxiety