Time Spent Outdoors In Nature, A Little Bit Boosts Your Health:
Oftentimes we think about health only in-terms of diet and exercise.
What you eat, moving around, calories, food-quality; that’s it.
“The only thing a person cares about is their own rice bowl”,-kind-of thinking.
But there are 3 types of health-factors that are much more sneaky.
1) The stuff around you, hiding in plain-sight. 2) The truly-unknown factors on the edge of chaos. 3) The stuff you had but forgot. These are all +/- Invisible.
And if an Exeter team and ancient Japanese philosophers are right, we all have one big counter-civilization benefit; hiding right in plain-sight…
Little Boxes. The World That Has Been Pulled Over Your Eyes:
So the modern world is pretty arrogant.
If it’s new, it’s automatically better.
Mies Van Der Rohe -style sealed office-block skyscraper? -Genius!
Recirculating the same old air, volatile-organics, off-gassing, and particulate-irritants? -Brilliant!
Cube Farms and Fluorescent Lights? Brilliant!
But the short answer for U.E.’s research is that if you can do something very old-fashioned and get outside into nature for a minimum time each week, it will improve your health in many ways that modern housing and offices forgot a long time ago.
Read on to find out more…
Hyper-Modernism! We Were Not Born In Plastic Boxes:
As The Hygiene Hypothesis likes to remind us,
Humanity does not have its roots in some hyper-antiseptic, autoclaved, white-plastic world.
In-fact, right up until very recently in history, even 100 years ago, the world was a pretty dirty place.
The US didn’t even start chlorinating it’s water-supply until 1908!
Now, this is not to suggest the Raw Water Wingnuts are correct,
But in creating this highly-sterilized world, we might be missing-out on things that our bodies were programmed to deal-with.
This also comes from the very spaces we inhabit, and by-contrast, the ones we neglect.
And believe it or not, allergy-season-be-damned, just being out in nature can help you be healthier and happier.
Time Outside In Nature; Huge Study On Healthy Britons:
So in a study of 20,000 UK citizens,
Across all demographic groups such as race, sex, age, and economic-status,
Researchers at the University of Exeter found that across-the-board,
If someone spent at-least 120 minutes total outside in any natural-space like a park, forest, or beach,
They were more-likely to report both greater Physical and Mental Health to a statistically-significant degree.
Oddly-enough, it seemed that less than 120 minutes was the cutoff; any less than that and the correlation with good-health vanished.
This association didn’t even have to be off in the country or some nature-resort-town, either.
The link was equally-strong even for people who went to local or urban greenspaces like city-parks, too.
(Those same city-parks just might be filtering out a little urban air-pollution out also.)
The Great Outdoors Is Healthy For Everyone, Everywhere. -Lucky You!:
This also was true for the total amount of time.
So you don’t have to have a marathon-session of 2 hours in one day.
Any amount per day that adds up to 120+ in a week is good.
Just like the recent CDC suggestion that any amount of exercise -At All- counts, and is ultimately good for you.
Even more encouraging, was that even people with long-term illnesses or disabilities were somehow helped by getting out.
And that is both surprising and unexpected!
-Because, let’s face-it, the easiest hole to poke in this data could be: “Well the sick people all stay home, so The Great Outdoors is really having no effect, and this correlation is all just selection-bias.”
It Doesn’t Have To Be A Long Trip:
More encouraging, is that you don’t have to go far.
For most people seeing the benefits, the distance traveled to a nature-space was 2 miles or less!
And one of the more-intriguing but difficult community-planning ideas is to marry both ancient and new,
By avoiding packed-in, treeless Levittown-style developments in the future,
Integrating more and more green-spaces right around the borders of people’s own homes could put the natural benefits even closer than 2 miles;
-Though a walk might do you some good…
Ancient Man Was Pretty Smart:
Strangely-enough, though it’s a more 19th-century idea in the US,
And still older in Japan,
The idea of going out specifically into nature for the purposes of health is not a recent one.
In ancient Shinto rites in Japan, it was all part of the discipline.
They didn’t have the Science to measure things like beneficial microbes from all-over the forest,
The reduction in stress-hormones like Cortisol that can come from breathing in the scent of cedar and forest-floor,
But they were smart-enough to figure-out that getting out of the cities, towns and villages did have a positive-effect.
And the same was true in The West, for the great Giant-Log-House-Style “Sanatoriums” of the 1800s as depicted in movies like “The Road To Wellville”.
But The Forest Does Have Many Benefits:
And just like the Hygiene Hypothesis kids who live on or near farms, play in the dirt, and never get allergies,
Similar benefits can accrue to modern adults getting Back out there.
A few of the benefits attributed to Nature Therapy or as the Japanese call it, “Forest Bathing” include:
1) Better Immune System Function
2) Reduced Blood Pressure
3) Lower Stress
4) Improved Mood
5) Reduced Anxiety & Depression
6) Increased Ability to Focus
7) Accelerated Recovery from Surgery or Illness
8) Increased Energy
9) Improved Sleep
And if that’s true for a full “Forest Bathing” experience,
Then perhaps something similar is happening in the UK for people who even just go out to the park occasionally.
Can Getting A Few Extra Microbes Help Avoid Bigger Problems?:
Even if you count the exposure to potential beneficial natural coniferous-tree chemicals and microbes,
The amount of Vitamin D they must get, even in the UK, surely has to play a positive role.
Not only that, but as long as the town isn’t too big and international,
People who are around others generally tend to have a stronger immune-system than shut-ins,
Because just like accidentally getting a little dirt under your fingernails on a Forest Bathing trip,
Their systems will have more and smaller battles to fight, so they can keep from turning around and targeting the person’s own body in an auto-immune type disorder.
Now the UK researchers don’t stipulate this directly, but it would be another bet that makes sense to make.
It Doesn’t Have To Be Fancy:
Something like the organized & focused light hiking trip of Forest Bathing may be out-of-reach for many reasons.
So it’s a genuine relief to find out that something as humble as a town or city park can provide nearly the same benefit,
Albeit in less selective circumstances in some cases.
So although it’s Summer, and the advice to go get out there is hardly revolutionary right-now,
Hold-on to that idea as you go through the year and keep up that discipline until it would turn you into a popsicle.
Because the skyscrapers of guys like Mies Van Der Rohe birthed amazing design,
Right along with “Sick Building Syndrome”
Don’t let your own home turn into the same scenario.
• Source: U. Exeter
• More Coverage: HT- Forest Bathing
• Source Study: Sci.Rep. – Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing