Nature - The Other Health Pillar

My happy place is being in the mountains. I love the smell of pine trees and the peacefulness of the forest. The air is fresher. The sky is bluer. I feel energized. One of my favorite nature experiences is being on a chair lift at a ski resort. I find the gentle rocking of the chair therapeutic. Sounds are softer. The air is crisp. I find a spiritual connection with being in nature.

There are many health benefits to being in nature. There is improvement in mental health, largely due to a reduction in stress, increased focus and concentration, a strengthened immune system, decreased blood pressure, and diabetic health benefits, just to name a few. In today’s environment, with many individuals working from home and living a more sedentary lifestyle, getting back to nature is more important than ever.


Outdoor recreation has often been associated with a healthy lifestyle. Walking or biking outdoors can burn from 149 to 372 calories every 30 minutes. Studies have shown that individuals tend to be more active when they’re outdoors. The great news is, there are outdoor activities for all ages and abilities. Whether gardening, playing tennis, walking, or chasing your kids around the yard, all activities have similar health benefits.


The following information, from the National Institutes of Health, Frontiers of Psychology, Nature.com, PLOS ONE and Semantic Scholar, identify the following nature benefits:


· 10 minutes of gardening or a weekly visit to a public park or garden can alleviate depression.

· 20 minutes hiking among trees, bird-watching, or doing other nature activities, reduces cortisol, the hormone that causes stress.

· 30 minutes of sitting or walking in a park can lower blood pressure and heart rate.

· 45 minutes of hiking in the mountains results in less fatigue and higher alertness than the same amount of time spent indoors on a treadmill.

· 60 minutes walking in nature can improve memory and attention span by 20%.


The next time you’re needing an emotional boost or considering activity, get outdoors! You’ll be glad you did!


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