Outdoor activities that get us out in nature, like fishing, biking, hiking, skiing, or just taking a leisurely walk, are more than just excellent forms of entertainment. They can also go a long way toward improving mental and physical well-being. Here are a few of the many ways nature can affect and improve your health.
Lower Levels of Stress
Cities, with all their hustle and bustle, tend to overstimulate our senses and make us tense. Nature, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. Time spent in nature is inherently relaxing, as long as safety is accounted for. Our perception of peaceful harmony puts our minds in a calming state.
Being in nature relaxes the mind, which causes the body to release less of the stress hormone cortisol. This leads to a better overall hormonal balance in the body.
Lower Blood Pressure
This relaxation of the mind in turn brings major benefits to physical health, most notable lower blood pressure. This results in better overall cardiovascular health.
Most people have experienced an overwhelming flood of euphoria when taking in the “sublime” in nature, whether it be from the edge of the sea or the top of a mountain. But even in more everyday settings like a sun-dappled wood or bubbling stream, interaction with nature has been proven to make us feel better.
Better-Functioning Nervous System
Being in nature leads to your nervous system being less-easily aroused. This makes that same system function better overall.
Enhanced Immune System
The stress-reducing benefits of experiencing nature also bring about enhancements to the immune system. This means the more time you spend out in nature, the less likely you are to get sick and the more easily your body will recover from illness.
While this benefit might not seem as obvious as others, studies have shown that it does indeed exist. In a famous experiment, one group of participants was sent on a nature walk while another walked through city streets. When all participants took a memory test after their strolls, the group that had experienced nature scored significantly higher.
These days, it seems we spend more time inside on electronic devices than ever before. We often hear it repeated that it would be good for us to get outside and take in some fresh air. Science proves that these suggestions are sound, backed by more than just conventional wisdom. Nature is good for health, plain and simple. So get outside and breathe in the fresh air.