Nature for better health and wellbeing

Being in nature helps us feel good. Recently there’s been a surge in interest in how the natural world positively impacts on human health and wellbeing. This includes the physical components of the world around us (forests, hills, rivers, etc.) and biodiversity – the plants and animals that live in it. Consequently, there’s now a wealth of scientific evidence that proves being connected to nature provides tangible benefits to our physical and mental health. So, being in nature helps us feel good and become physically healthier!

Various organisations like The Wildlife Trusts are promoting engaging with nature for the health benefits it provides.  In line with this, the Wildlife Trusts published a report in 2015 that describes the evidence for why nature is good for us. This gives me a nice way to introduce this topic that I feel so passionate about! Therefore, today’s post gives you a glimpse into some of this scientific evidence, to whet your appetite for topics I’ll be exploring in greater depth and detail down the line!

Wild swimming is a great way to get green (or blue?!) exercise
Wild swimming is a great way to get green (or blue?!) exercise

What is nature and how do we connect with it?

To me nature includes any plant or animal – I exclude pets although they provide all manner of benefits too. Your back garden, a forest wilderness, a local park, a window box – these are all ‘nature’ to me. Additionally, I consider indoor plants as valuable sources of a nature fix and I’m very keen on bringing the outside, in!

There are three basic ways to connect with nature:

  1. View nature: from a window, in a picture
  2. Contact nearby nature: get out in your garden, visit a local park, feed your local wildlife
  3. Participate in nature-based activities: walk in the woods, do some volunteering for your local nature reserve, go wild swimming
Cycling forest trails is a great way to get your green exercise
Cycling forest trails is a great way to get your green exercise

Evidence that being connected to nature is good for us

Evidence comes from many different subject areas, which means the findings give a very broad view of our health and wellbeing: immunity, self-esteem, anxiety and stress, and crime rates to name but a few!

Nature is good for health and wellbeing: evidence comes from many sources
The evidence that nature is good for our health and wellbeing comes from a wide range of subject areas.

 

Today’s task: In the comments let me know (a) what is ‘nature’ to you and (b) how do you get your nature fix?

 

In Part 2 I highlight some of the interesting ways that connecting with nature improves our health and wellbeing.

4 thoughts on “Nature improves our health and wellbeing: Part 1

  1. Hi Nina, I like the blog. You may already be aware of this, but the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, published in 2011, provides some compelling evidence of the health and wellbeing benefits of nature.

    In answer to your questions, nature to me is pretty much anything outdoors – even heavily built-up areas have some nature if you look! As for my nature fix, I usually get it following in the wake of my speedy 4 year old (although my one year old’s current obsession with all things avian is also fun, and rather more sedate)!

    I definitely find that I see nature in a whole new way through the eyes of my children!

    1. Hi Peter,
      Thank you very much! No I wasn’t aware of that, thank you for the tip – I’ll certainly have a read.
      I completely agree regarding built-up areas, there’s always something wild to see if, as you so, you take the time to really notice. Haha, that sounds like fun and like you’re certainly getting your green exercise! Great to hear the kids are tuned into the natural world, and I’m glad for your sake things with the youngest are sedate..for now!! Archie loves staring out the window at the trees waving around in the breeze and is now able to track birds flying passed (not in a forest ranger type of way just yet!).

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