Simple ways to enhance health and wellbeing

In Part 1, I introduced the wide range of scientific evidence proving that nature connection improves our health and wellbeing. Here in Part 2, I highlight some interesting facts we now know about how this happens. All studies referred to below are cited in The Wildlife Trusts’ report, mentioned in Part 1.

Looking at nature

Simply looking out of your window at a natural view – trees, fields, the coast – and noticing wildlife gives you and your family so much. Children who can view nature have better brain power and are more able to control their own behaviour – yes please! When you’re at work, nature views reduce stress and improve job satisfaction. Such a simple thing, but it could benefit employers so much through increased productivity and reduced sick pay! This I find incredibly powerful: hospital patients who can see nature outside get better more quickly, have fewer complications and need less pain relief. Next time you’re ill (I hope it’s a looong time away, if at all), see if you can regularly look at nature and see if you feel better quicker! Even looking at pictures of natural scenes has an effect – it relaxes your body and your mind.

Noticing the nature outside can help us feel good, improving wellbeing
Noticing the nature outside can help us feel good.

Nearby nature

I love this: using your local natural spaces helps you live longer! Woohoo, get me out there now then! It seems that using any green space has a strong positive effect on the general health and wellbeing of you and your family. It’s particularly important for children, strengthening their ability to cope with stress and improving brain power and attention. Stress reduction, enhanced immunity, more active lifestyles, lower crime rates and less aggression…spending time with your local nature can really do all this. I’ll explore the evidence for these claims in future posts as there’s just too much interesting stuff to include here and not write a tome!

Choosing to walk through local green space instead of driving, or simply having lunch in the park are great ways to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of nature for free!
Choosing to walk through local green space instead of driving, or simply having lunch in the park are great ways to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of nature for free!

Get your (active) greens

Green exercise is becoming a huge field in its own right. Just being in nature gives you benefits, just doing exercise gives you benefits – put the two together and BOOM, you get more bang for your natural buck (so to speak). The research shows that green exercise improves your health in three main areas:

  1. Psychological wellbeing
  2. Physical health
  3. Social networking

Exercising in many different environments give you these benefits, as do a variety of activities. Basically, get your active greens in whatever form you fancy and you’ll be benefiting from the synergy between nature and exercise. Interestingly, it’s the first 5 minutes of the exercise that gives you the most benefit so make those first minutes count by really being present in what you do.

Jogging in your local park can help you engage with nearby nature to improve health and wellbeing. Joining a running group is a great to get your active greens in company!
Jogging in your local park can help you engage with nearby nature to improve health and wellbeing. Joining a running group is a great to get your active greens in company!

 

Today’s task: In the comments tell me (a) your favourite natural scenes and why, (b) what green exercise do you enjoy and how do you think it benefits you?

In future posts I’ll be exploring what our wellbeing is and how you can use nature to improve yours. I’ll also be looking in greater detail at some of the recent science to find out HOW nature makes us feel good.

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