As adults, most of us know that getting outside and spending time in nature is good for us. That’s why we often long to take vacations in beautiful, scenic places or spend our bank holiday weekends trekking rugged coastal paths or traipsing through forests. But why exactly is spending time in nature good for us and what are the benefits?
Improved Mental Health
In the United States, almost half of adults (46.4%) experience mental health problems in their lifetime. However, spending time in nature, away from urban environments, has been shown to have great benefits on mental health, reducing mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression, seasonal effectiveness disorder and sleep insomnia.
In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, there is mounting evidence that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human wellbeing. As such, ‘nature therapy’ is now prescribed by many doctors as part of a mental health treatment plan and encouraged as a positive way to help manage symptoms of mental health.
Nature Makes People Happier According to the Experts
Spending time in nature makes people happier, offering a cathartic release from negativity. This is because nature fosters a connectedness that generates positive emotions that promote feelings of calmness, joy, and creativity.
Many rehab centers are utilizing the power of nature and natural healing in their treatment plans. Incorporating “natural healing” through activities such as outdoor adventures; fishing, hiking, and rock climbing, and safari, rehab clinics are able to harness the power of nature in healing the mind.
With so many benefits to being outdoors, many wellness retreats and rehab clinics have situated themselves in scenic and remote locations to take advantage of their naturally therapeutic surroundings. Mental health rehab clinics provide the support people desperately need whilst incorporating the benefits of nature into their treatment processes.
Reduced Stress Levels
In today’s modern world, stress is a common and often unavoidable fact of life. We can feel stressed in our jobs, in our home lives, in our social lives, and much more. Unfortunately, all of this stress can negatively impact our physical and mental wellbeing.
One of the first major studies used to discover more about the relationship between nature and stress reduction was conducted in 1995. The study found that those who walked among the trees for 40 minutes experienced lower cortisol levels (a key marker of stress levels) compared to those who walked in an indoor setting.
In addition to lowered stress, participants in the study who spent time outdoors also reported higher levels of energy and lower markers of tension, sadness, fatigue, and anger.
Spending time in nature is an excellent way to fight stress and has been studied and proven to reduce cortisol levels, making it easier to manage the daily stresses that are an inevitable part of life.
Increased Immunity and Physical Health
We all know that spending time in nature and going on regular walks, runs, or cycles outdoors is a great way to improve our physical fitness. But did you know that your physical wellbeing can also benefit you?
According to a 2009 Japanese study, spending time in nature was found to increase the body’s immune function. Nature provides much-needed protection against a starting range of illnesses by enhancing the body’s health and ability to fight off sickness. What a great excuse to take that nature vacation you’ve been looking forward to!
Spending Time Outdoors Increases Vitamin D
Spending time in nature is a great way to increase your intake of natural light. It increases your intake of vitamin D which in turn can increase your happiness, reduce feelings of fatigue, reduce symptoms of mental health, potentially help prevent osteoporosis and cancer, and even decrease your risk of a heart attack.
What’s more, increased exposure to natural light and vitamin D also increases sleep quality, aids in regulating sleep patterns and overall better sleep quality.
In an article for INSIDER, Robert Glatter, of Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, confirmed that "vitamin D deficiency is linked to sleep disorders including poor sleep quality, short sleep duration, and sleepiness. Results of a recent meta-analysis indicated that low [vitamin D] levels were associated with an increased risk of sleep disorders. It may not only lead to insomnia but also sleep disruption and sleep apnea, especially if you're already at higher risk for developing these disorders."
So, the more natural light you get throughout the day, the better your sleep will be.
Improved Memory and Cognitive Function
Spending time in nature has been found to improve memory and increase cognitive function. In fact, 90% of Canadians agree that spending time in nature is great for their mental and physical health, and it increases their productivity.
So, getting out and spending time in nature is a great way to improve your memory and increase your cognitive function. Have you got an important meeting coming up? An exam? A big report that needs writing? Take a walk in nature and return to the task feeling refreshed, alert, and ready to tackle the challenge.
As you can see, there are numerous benefits to spending time in nature, including quality sleep. If you want to experience the benefits listed above (and who doesn’t?) make it a habit to spend more time outdoors.
Prioritizing time spent in nature is integral to a healthy life. Whether it’s walking to work, heading to your local park on your lunch break, spending weekends in the countryside, or taking nature vacations, it’s all about getting outdoors and connecting with nature again. We hope this article has inspired you to prioritize your health and spend more time in the natural world.
If you are planning on spending more time outdoors in Alaska, don't let your sleep apnea treatment suffer. Alaska Sleep Clinic has all of the best Travel CPAP Machines and accessories in all of our four labs around the state and online.