For years, I’ve loved nothing more on a day off than to sit under and lean against a big tree to meditate or read a book, to escape reality while communing with Mother Nature. And boy oh boy, does Mama have a surprise for you: getting in touch with nature improves your health! That’s right, nature is going to nurture you to a state of optimum healthiness, and when you’re healthy, you’re happy (at least I know I am!).
I get the feeling there might be a grumpy person reading this thinking “Meh, I don’t believe it. How exactly is nature going to help me?” Well, for starters, just spending time outside in the sun raises your levels of Vitamin D, which happens to help protect your body from various diseases, bone problems, and diabetes. And consider for a moment a 2008 Australian study in which researchers found that children who spend more time outside during the day develop better long-distance vision than those who do not. Sure, we might not be children anymore, but I don’t think it would hurt to give our eyes a workout, especially if all it takes is spending some time in the world.
Also be sure to keep your eye on ions. Okay, please forgive the bad pun. Exposing yourself to nature, specifically walking out by a waterfall or a beach where waves splash across the shore. Being in such environments can hit you with more negative ions than the best negative-ion air purifier out there. For those of you who don’t know why exactly you’d want negative ions, let me explain. Negative ions, despite their negative charge, are actually highly positive things. These ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, protect against germs in the air, and, according to a Columbia University study, relieve depression symptoms. But don’t go buying an ion releasing air purifier yet though; these negative ions occur naturally in the air but are much more common in areas of flowing water, while your home AC removes these ions from the air.
And if those ions weren’t enough, take a look at the relatively new health/happiness/nature/fitness trend from Japan known as Forest Bathing. I know it sounds a little strange, but in Nihongo (the Japanese name for the Japanese language) it’s called Shinrin-Yoku (the practice is also prevalent in Korea where it’s known as Salim Yok). A number of research studies on Forest Bathing have been done in the past 30 years, and every one I’ve found mentions incredibly positive results, particularly a reduction in blood pressure and cortisol levels (the hormone linked to stress), and an elevation in your body’s immune system. There is even evidence that Forest Bathing can reduce ADHD and have a positive impact on diabetes, obesity, and mental health disorders.
In truth I could go on for ages, for I’m just barely scratching the surface of the reasons why you should hop out into nature. Almost every day, another study comes out showing the positive effects of nature on the human body/mind/psyche. Ultimately, this means we all simply need to get out off those couches and into the wide world of nature more often.