In the modern, highly digital world, it can be easy to feel disconnected from the natural world, particularly if you live in a city. For many of us, the time we spend outside is limited to the short walk from the car to the supermarket, or the trip to the mailbox.
As it turns out, however, nature has a lot to offer. Multiple studies have shown the significant benefits of spending time outside, and they're definitely enough to warrant turning your working lunch into a quick stroll, or changing your weekend plans. Here, we'll outline a few of the perks you'll have to look forward to:
Nature Improves Your Physical Health
The health benefits of nature is a pretty astonishing list. Researchers have linked exposure to the outdoors with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and asthma hospitalizations. Scientists are still figuring out which mechanisms are responsible for these positive effects, but it's possible that they have something to do with the enhanced immune function and vitamin D production that are also associated with time spent outdoors.
In patients recovering from surgery, nature has even been shown to have a positive impact on pain management and recovery.
…and Your Mental Health
Spending time outside is also really, really good for your brain. Exposure to nature has been proven to lead to better cognitive function in a number of studies. It's also been shown to decrease stress and boost happiness, both of which are crucial for maintaining good mental health and fighting depression and anxiety. One study showed a significantly lower risk of psychiatric disorders (such as depression, mood disorders, and schizophrenia) in children who grew up with more access to nature.
Nature Promotes Healthier Lifestyles
Many outdoor activities require physical activity, which is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Even low-intensity exercise like walking is a great way to burn calories and improve sleep quality. Nature also provides ideal opportunities to socialize with friends and connect with your community, which are hugely beneficial for your well-being.
How Much Time in Nature Is Enough?
According to one study published in 2019, spending two hours a week in nature is correlated with significant increases in health and well-being. Divided up, that comes out to just under half an hour each day.
However, while two hours is the magic number at which benefits of spending time outside seem to peak, it's not an all-or-nothing equation. In many studies, even indirect exposure to nature (such as being near a window that had a view of trees) was shown to have a positive impact. So if two hours isn't realistic for your lifestyle, even working toward smaller doses may still be worth the effort.
If you're in need of a nature boost, consider taking a long walk around the beautiful grounds at Hagley. The mission of Hagley Museum and Library is to foster innovation and inspiration through our historical collections. Located on the site of E.I. du Pont's gunpowder works, Hagley's offerings include a library dedicated to the study of American business and technology, a unique patent model collection, and the restored historical mill and workers' community, as well as the home and gardens of the du Pont family. Hagley also hosts a variety of events intended to educate and engage the wider community. Plan your visit today, or consider donating to support our work!