Last week we wrote about the benefits of sunshine for your health and happiness. Unfortunately for most of us year-round sunshine is but a distant dream. We’re here to tell you that that doesn’t matter, merely being outside can help your body and your mind:
1) How nature helps your body – If you tell a friend in Japan that you are stressed they may tell you to try ‘forest bathing’. Forest bathing involves immersing oneself in the forest in order to relax. This might sound strange to those not accustomed to it but actually research shows that it can work. Forest bathing trips not only reduce stress but also boost the immune system. The same effect isn’t seen after a city-break suggesting that nature has a special restorative power . I know what you’re thinking, not many of us have the time or an available forest to escape to. The good news is that a forest is not strictly necessary. Other research has shown that just 11 extra trees on one city block can reduces residents’ risk for heart disease . Chronic stress affects our immune and cardiovascular systems so when you’re stressed out try planning a walk in the country or just take a moment to admire nature in your everyday environment.
2) How nature helps your mind –We’re often told that one remedy for work stress is to go for a walk. But did you know that you can boost the effects of this by taking your walk in a green space? Researchers in Stanford University sent one group of volunteers to walk down a busy main street for 50 minutes and another group to walk in a local park for the same time. Those who walked in the park not only had lower stress and improved mood when they came back but their mental agility was better than when they had set out. Although the walk through the city improved mood, it didn’t have the same range of benefits as walking in the park . So the next time you’re facing a stressful day at work grab your lunch and head out to the local park or green space. You might find that not only does your mood improve but that your brain is better set to face the challenge ahead.
1. Li, Q., et al., Visiting a forest, but not a city, increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology, 2008. 21(1):p. 117-127.
2. Kardan, O., et al., Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center. Scientific reports, 2015. 5.
3. Bratman, G.N., et al., The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition. Landscape and Urban Planning, 2015. 138: p. 41-50.