By Karen Hendricks
When your mother told you to “Go play outside,” she may have been laying the groundwork for a lifelong healthy habit.
A recent study, reported by The Los Angeles Times, found that people who came into contact with nature, even in urban environments, boosted their well-being.
It’s considered landmark work because it measured how nature within a built environment can affect mental well-being–for the first time. Since more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and numerous studies point to a link between city dwelling and higher risk of mental health issues, the authors say their work could help city planners incorporate more natural features.
The study, published in the journal Bioscience, found that people were more likely to report higher states of well-being when they were outdoors, seeing trees, hearing birds singing, seeing the sky and feeling in contact with nature.
The positive effects on well-being of seeing trees and seeing the sky lasted for more than two hours. Additionally, when people answered “yes” to the question “Do you feel in contact with nature?” researchers measured a statistical effect on mental well-being that lasted nearly five hours.
It’s a timely topic: Today is National Arbor Day, on the heels of Earth Day, as most of the country (finally) begins to feel and see the effects of spring.
Three of my published articles in April focused on nature and the great outdoors. Perhaps the implications of enjoying nature go much deeper into our health and well-being than we realize!
Through It All: In springtime, the thru-hikers take to the A.T., TheBurg, April 2018
20 Ways to Go Wild in Central PA: Discover adventure at any age in local nature centers, wildlife sanctuaries and more, Susquehanna Style, April 2018
25 Hot Spots to Dine Out(doors), Susquehanna Style, April 2018