Research indicates that escaping to the neighbourhood park, hiking, trail running, mountain biking or simply walking in your garden at home can effectively lower your stress levels and decrease your blood pressure. It can also play a role in reducing your risk of chronic conditions like allergies, diabetes and heart disease, while at the same time boosting your metal health.
People who spend around two hours a week outdoors report being in better health and having a greater sense of well-being than people who don’t get out at all. And this nature ‘prescription’ doesn’t have to happen all at once. Not many people have the time (or effort sometimes) to spend 2 hours every day soaking up some nature, and not everyone has the luxury of being able to pop off to the forest for a quick jog. But you can still get the same benefits by taking a long walk on one day or making a trip to the beach or the mountains over the weekend. Plus, getting out there when you can and being mindful of nature while you’re there, is what really counts.
The health benefits of being in nature are largely due to its impact on your stress levels, but not exclusively. Getting outside means you’re less likely to be sitting in front of TV, or on your device. You’re also more likely to see and interact with others who are doing the same thing, so there’s a social aspect too. And, if you’re doing it with your family, or friends, there is a strong relationship bonding factor.
Most importantly, it’s about appreciating the beauty around you. Those feelings of awe have a powerful impact on not only your mood but your overall health. Spending time outdoors is a low-cost and low-risk prescription for a big pay off in health – just what good medicine is all about!
- Kondo MC, Jacoby SF, South EC. Does spending time outdoors reduce stress? A review of real-time stress response to outdoor environments. Health Place. 2018 May;51:136-150. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2018.03.001. Epub 2018 Mar 29. PMID: 29604546.
- 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