We all know that it’s good for us to spend time outdoors, even in winter, right? But do you know why? We thought we would do some research and bring you the scientific evidence Brink-style to explain why it is so important to spend time with Mother Nature. And we put it in a list, naturally.
All it takes is a couple of hours a week enjoying nature to notice an improvement in how you feel. A scientific report has shown that spending just 2 hours a week in natural environments such as parks, woodland and beaches is associated with feelings of good health and wellbeing. The study of almost twenty thousand adults, including those with long term health issues, found that it doesn't matter how the two hours of outdoor time is achieved, it can be one long walk or several shorter trips outside. Walking to work counts.
A month-long campaign looked at the effects on our health of engaging with nature every day. The participants chose daily activities from a list of Random Acts of Wildness, ranging from the simple act of smelling a wild flower to exploring a local wildlife area for the first time. The results confirmed that exposure to nature can result in positive wellbeing benefits such as improved vitality and mood and reduced anxiety. They showed that people’s health improved and their feelings of happiness were considerably higher through regular, daily contact with nature. Best of all, the happy feelings remained for months after they had finished the challenge.
With winter approaching, and the threat of the C-word looking to be with us for the long term, anything we can do to boost our immune system has to be a good thing, right? Especially if it’s as easy as spending a few hours surrounded by trees. Through a series of studies in Japan, where the practice of “forest bathing” originated, scientists have found that spending just a couple of hours in parks and other woodland places can result in increased immune function.
It’s official - living close to nature and spending time outside can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and it can reduce your stress levels. A study by the University of East Anglia measured people’s levels of cortisol, a physiological marker of stress, and found that exposure to green spaces significantly reduced their levels. This is really important because the results of a recent report on the Impact of COVID-19 showed that only 9% of the Guernsey participants had experienced no stress or anxiety… that’s a whopping 91% of us who are dealing with some level of stress… it really is time to get back to nature. And we're incredibly lucky to be surrounded by it!
And finally, if we haven’t persuaded you to go outside more, watch out for Nature Deficit Disorder. Over in America, the preference for sitting in front of a screen rather than going outside has become so extreme that it has been given this label. In a book on the subject, Richard Louv directly links a lack of nature in our lives to worrying childhood trends such as rising obesity levels, attention deficit disorder and depression, with studies showing that too much screen time spells trouble for the developing mind. In the book, he quotes a child who told him he prefers to play indoors “because that’s where all the electrical outlets are!”
We'll see you on the beach.