• Dr. Karen Bender, ND, RN

Nature Therapy: Research Supports Spending Time in Nature Improves Health

For many it has long been obvious that spending time in nature makes you feel good. In recent years many scientist have conducted studies to figure out how and why this might be true. Many of these these studies support the power of spending time in nature to improve mental health, improve healing and recovery from surgery and trauma, improve immune functioning, and also improve focus and productivity. Spending time outside for the purpose of improving health and well being has become known as Nature Therapy and the body of evidence supporting it is growing. Below I have listed just a few examples of this research in hope of encouraging more people to to get outside and enjoy the beauty and health benefits of nature.

A recent study done at Stanford University show that walking in nature results in measurable mental health benefits that may reduce the risk of depression. The study found that people who walked in a natural area for 90 minutes as opposed to participants for walked in a high-traffic urban setting demonstrated decreased activity in the region of the brain associated with repetitive negative thoughts and rumination (1). Increased activity in this region of the brain is associated with depression.

For a deeper look behind the science supporting using nature as a therapy for depression, anxiety, and ADHD and for insight into how to incorporate more nature in your life I recommend reading "Your Brain on Nature". In this book physician Eva Selhub and naturopath Alan Logan examine the effects of nature on the brain as well as how over use of technology is effecting the brain.

I also highly recommend listening to this episode of Hidden Brain, a podcast from NPR, called "Our Better Nature: How The Great Outdoors Can Improve Your Life."

If this inspires you but you are not sure where to start, I encourage you to join me on a Sense and Savor Walk. This is great way to increase time in nature in community. See my listing of upcoming and on-going events for more details.

(1) Bratmana1, Gregory N., J. Paul Hamiltonb, Kevin S. Hahnc, and Gretchen C. Dailyde1 And. "Gregory N. Bratman." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. National Acad Sciences, n.d. Web. 16 May 2017

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