How can spending time with outdoors make us feel less anxious and stressed? Green spaces reduce feelings of loneliness and help us relax. In Japan Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing is backed by scientific research as it has physiological and psychological benefits.
In an interview with GQ magazine, Professor Richard Fuller from the School of Biological Sciences at The University of Queensland said, “Experiences in nature benefit us in an enormous range of ways. Whenever scientists look, they seem to find benefits, and new ones are being discovered all the time. For example, nature helps manage and prevent Type II diabetes and hypertension.”
In fact even just being able to watch nature from a distance seems to help. “Workers with views of nature from the office window are less likely to want to resign from their job than those without, and these sorts of effects sum up to nature-related folks having greater levels of contentment and life satisfaction.”
Observing nature while outdoors creates neurological changes in the brain that help us reduce stress and recover.
“The attention restoration theory suggest that nature gently demands our attention, reducing our focus on the immediate (often more abstract) pressures around us and giving us reprieve from life’s stresses. Nature’s experiences are intensely mindful – we quietly concentrate on the sights, sounds and smells of nature in a way that keeps our mind focused in the present and reduces time spent worrying about the past and future.”
“A study in Brisbane found that half an hour spent in parks and other green spaces each week was associated with a 7% reduction in risk of a person having depression and a 9% reduction in hypertension. It is almost certainly the case that the effective dose of nature will vary with the type of person, the type of benefit and the type of nature experience.
“There is also intriguing evidence that longer term experiences of nature such as spending multiple days in wilderness environments can provide the opportunity for deeper reflections, which has become so extremely scarce in our modern societies,” he says.
So think about how you can build outdoor activities into your fitness routine. Maybe run in the park instead of on your treadmill or try any new outdoor sport for starters.
NOTE: Photo above is from YouTube Screengrab