Nature’s Impact on our Health
At Haeleum, we love spending time outside! There are some things about the great outdoors that are undesirable, such as sunburns, rashes, and bug bites (tip: wear a Haeleum insect repellent shirt), but overall it is more than worth it to experience the wonders of nature.
Getting outdoors and exploring nature is a popular activity all over the world, and it has been ever since humans stopped living in nature and hunting and gathering. Whether people are camping, walking on the beach, or mountain biking, most people enjoy experiencing nature in some way.
There is just something about escaping the artificial light, construction noise, and fast paced life that we have become so used to in urban areas. Being surrounded by towering trees, hearing the roar of the ocean, and breathing in unpolluted air is a treat for most city folk. It is not uncommon for time spent in nature to be the highlight of one’s day.
The biophilia theory puts forward the idea that there is an instinctive bond between humans and other living organisms. Human’s enchantment with nature certainly seems to makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.
Many fruits, for example, start out as flowers. To survive, seeing, identifying, and remembering different flowers and plants would have been a crucial skill for our ancestors. Similarly, making a home next to a lake or river would have provided pre-modern humans with a reliable source of hydration.
There is a growing body of research showing that exposure to nature has a significant, positive impact on human health. Ecotherapy is a term coined in 1996 by Howard Klinebell, referring to nature’s ability to ease anxiety, stress, and depression. Ecotherapy is now studied widely enough that John F. Kennedy University now offers an ecotherapy certificate program.
Health care providers are even giving out nature prescriptions to their patients to help a wide range of ills. Nature prescriptions are given out to help patients with health issues such as diabetes, schizophrenia, hypertension, obesity and post-cancer fatigue.
Ecotherapy was given further clout in 2010 when a Japanese study found that different elements of nature such as smells, sounds, and images reduced stress in the study’s participants. The stress hormone cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure of participants all decreased with the nature stimulus.
But scientific study is hardly necessary to prove that taking a walk on the beach decreases stress. We all have years of anecdotal experience where nature has provided the scenery for relaxation. Although next time someone questions your use of time outside you can tell them there is scientific evidence supporting your nature love.