Nature Time Improves Health, Well-Being
Stressed? Depressed? Take a forest bath. Another major study shows that outdoor exposure is good for the body and mind.
A meta-study (a study of studies) involving 290 million people in 20 countries has concluded that “Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits.” Science Daily announces, “It’s official — spending time outside is good for you.”
Researchers at the University of East Anglia found strong confirmation in 140 studies of what is intuitively obvious: we feel better when we can see trees and sky. The benefits go deeper than intuition:
A new report published today reveals that exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure….
‘Green space’ was defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation as well as urban greenspaces, which included urban parks and street greenery.
The team analysed how the health of people with little access to green spaces compared to that of people with the highest amounts of exposure.
“We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration.
“People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol — a physiological marker of stress.
Considering how much work time is lost due to stress, depression and anxiety, time outside could be just what the doctor ordered. The Japanese, once again, seem to be ahead of the Europeans on this point.
“Forest bathing is already really popular as a therapy in Japan — with participants spending time in the forest either sitting or lying down, or just walking around. Our study shows that perhaps they have the right idea!”
But what causes the benefits? Is it physical activity? Is it socializing? It’s probably those, and more: it gives helpful bacteria a chance to hitch a ride on you! Those, in turn, get your immune system something to practice on.
Meanwhile, exposure to a diverse variety of bacteria present in natural areas may also have benefits for the immune system and reduce inflammation.
“Much of the research from Japan suggests that phytoncides — organic compounds with antibacterial properties — released by trees could explain the health-boosting properties of forest bathing.”
The findings reinforce the idea that human beings were made for outdoor life. We obviously shouldn’t be outside in pouring rain, or on smoky, smoggy days. But life in front of unnatural computer screens in an office cubicle with processed air can take its toll. Wise managers, healthcare professionals and city planners should take this human need for outdoor exposure into account.
The research team hope that their findings will prompt doctors and other healthcare professionals to recommend that patients spend more time in greenspace and natural areas.
Twohig-Bennett said: “We hope that this research will inspire people to get outside more and feel the health benefits for themselves. Hopefully our results will encourage policymakers and town planners to invest in the creation, regeneration, and maintenance of parks and greenspaces, particularly in urban residential areas and deprived communities that could benefit the most.“
This ought to be one subject both creationists and evolutionists can agree on.
Creationists can get a laugh over atheist Carl Sagan’s lapse into worship when he said, “It makes sense for us to revere the trees, for we are their children.” OK, Carl; plant an acorn and see if a baby grows from it. Instead, the Bible teaches that God put our first parents not in a city, but in a garden. The future city of God will have lots of open greenspace: rivers, too:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
This is the real, original created Tree of Life, not Darwin’s fake. Do you see a hint that both Eden and the future New Earth will allow humans to take risks? Why would God make provision for healing with leaves of trees? This suggests that heaven will be adventurous! Don’t think God wants his creatures to be bored, when He outfitted us with all kinds of physical capabilities and minds that soar with high aspirations. The apostle John is watching this vision from a “high mountain,” he says in (21:10). Can’t you envision it festooned with forests and all kinds of living creatures? Who will be first to the top? The gates of the New Jerusalem are open day and night, so we can enjoy all kinds of amazing environments on an unfallen Earth.
Our sister site CreationSafaris.com includes many resources to help you get some AWE in your life: Adventure, Worship and Education in the great outdoors!