The advantages of our outdoor experiences are not always easy to put into words. We love the sound of songbirds harmonizing from the treetops and appreciate the sight of a beautiful sunrise over a misty mountain. But how exactly do these types of “feel good” moments lead to happier lives and actual health rewards? There is research and a lot of documentation that tells us.
If you’re craving some consistent nature improvement or want more evidence pointing out the life changing things that can happen when you spend more time outdoors, check out these ten nature benefits.
1. Improved short term memory.
According to a study by the University of Michigan, nature in nature can help improve your short-term and working memory. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time beginner or you’re taking a bike ride through a state park. Nature can work wonders when it comes to your memory.
2. Reduced inflammation.
Among other nature’s benefits is that it can help reduce inflammation. In one study, elderly patients who went to the woods for a week showed fewer signs of inflammation, as well as evidence that walking in an evergreen forest had positive effects on high blood pressure.
3. Conservation awareness.
When we spend time in nature, we can better understand the relationship between humans and the environment. When we become stewards of nature, we can see why it is important to support healthy waterways.
4. Strengthens the immune system.
Knowing how to enjoy the great outdoors by spending time in a forest may reward you with higher immunity. When we breathe fresh air, we also breathe phytoncides. Phytoncides are airborne antimicrobial compounds that plants release to protect against harmful insects and germs. When we inhale these compounds, our bodies increase the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells, or NK. These cells kill tumor and virus infected cells in our body.
5. Less stress.
Research has shown that one of the benefits of going outside is less stress. Studies show that people who spend more time outdoors are in a better mood, think better, and find more meaning in life than people who stay indoors a lot. Learn how to tie a fly with a friend outdoors, or rent a canoe and paddle on a nearby lake.
6. Improved sleep.
Whether you’re learning to fish or hiking through the mountains, exposure to sunlight during the day can increase melatonin production at night. Melatonin helps regulate your sleep cycle.
7. Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness.
Knowing how to enjoy the outdoors can help you recover faster from illness or surgery. In a classic study conducted at a suburban Pennsylvania hospital between 1972 and 1981, patients who looked at deciduous trees healed faster from surgery than patients who looked at a wall.
8. Better vision.
Hours behind a computer or smartphone screen can affect your eyesight. When you spend time outdoors, your eyes can focus on objects further away, which can reduce eye strain.
9. Improved relationships.
A trip to the great outdoors is a great way to reconnect with family and friends and meet in person. Let family, friends, or a mentor teach you how to ride a boat or how to catch fish and you will likely build on your relationships in the process.
10. Higher self-esteem.
Studies have shown that just 5 minutes of outdoor activity can improve self-esteem. This is especially true if you are near green spaces or water. As you learn new fishing skills, moor a boat, put a trailer back, or tie a new fishing knot. The associated feelings of empowerment strengthen your self-esteem.
After knowing these amazing benefits of nature, choose a few outdoor destinations to explore, and then take advantage of the many rewards.