Why nature is good for you – well, where do we begin? For starters, being outdoors isn’t just fun, it’s good for the mind, body and soul. In fact, spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing, Nature Research reports.
Throughout the pandemic, millions of people around the world have been involuntarily restricted to staying within the confines of their home. While the average person can make do with being indoors for short periods (especially in light of stopping the spread of the virus), prolonged periods being cooped up indoors can start to have a drastic effect on our health.
Combined with the onset of cold weather and freezing winters in some parts of the world, stepping out into the natural environment has sadly started to become a thing of the past for millions of people.
However, taking the time to enjoy the wonders of nature whenever you can will not only provide clarity to the mind and fresh air to the lungs, it’ll strengthen your immune system, improve your mental health, and give you a better quality of sleep.
Here are the top reasons why nature is good for you and how it will boost your health.
#1 – It strengthens immunity
Even in cold weather, spending time outdoors (rugged up) is a good way to boost your immune system. This is mainly because plants emit airborne chemicals known as phytoncides. When you’re out in nature, no matter the temperature, you’re able to breathe in plenty of these amazing compounds – and as a result, your white blood cell levels increase.
White blood cells are key features in a strong immune system. They move through your body looking for harmful viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites, and fight them off. Spending regular time in nature, therefore, strengthens your immunity and lowers your risk of ill health.
#2 – Nature improves your mental health
It’s a well known fact that relaxing in nature has powerful positive effects on mood and mental health, and this has never been more relevant in the context of endless lockdowns and worry about the spread of the pandemic. In particular, spending time in nature has been proven to lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the body.
A Japanese nature therapy study found that the cortisol levels of 420 people who spent time in 35 forests were 12.4% lower than the control group who spent time in an urban setting. Additionally, the forest dwellers benefited from a 1.4% decrease in systolic blood pressure, an almost 6% drop in heart rate, and a 56% increase in immune function. And better yet, these impressive results are long lasting: participants still had a 23% increase in immune function one month after the study.
#3 – Nature fixes your sleep schedule
The third example which proves why nature is good for you relates to a very important health issue that affects millions of us around the globe: poor sleep quality. Unfortunately, given that humans spend most of their time exposed to artificial light, which interferes with the circadian rhythm (or sleep pattern), this is one of the main contributors to poor quality sleep.
The solution – sleep a night or two outdoors! It’s been proven that camping outdoors overnight is one of the best ways to get the most out of everything the natural world has to offer. In particular, it can help improve your sleep quality by resetting your body clock back to its natural sleep rhythms.
Camping is an opportunity to shun artificial light, increase your exposure to natural light, and restore your circadian rhythm. Ultimately, this results in better sleep quality that leaves you feeling well rested in the morning.
If you’re unable to venture far from home due to lockdown restrictions, why not try to camp a night or two in your own backyard? If the weather is comfortable, and you have some great company, you may even enjoy it.
These are just three of the ways that show why nature is good for you and why spending regular time in the outdoors is essential for good mental and physical health. Whether it’s a quick walk in the park or a weekend camping trip, nature will undoubtedly help to heal your body and mind.