Ah… Fresh air, the sun on your skin, the sound of a bubbling stream.
We all have different ways of enjoying the great outdoors. Some of us are hikers, some of us hunters. Some of us garden, some just want to lie on the beach and soak up the sun. While some enjoy sitting peacefully and observing the natural surroundings, others would rather walk, run, swim, climb trees—even climb mountains.
It is our primal instinct to feel happy, peaceful, and at home in nature. Our ancestors spent their lives outdoors—even their shelters were made of the earth. An outdoor, movement-based lifestyle provided healthy doses of the natural elements: sunlight, air, water, and earth.
All life DNA is programmed for life in the elements.
We live in a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment. Nature provides everything we need.
That was, until recently…
Recently, humans have arrived at a time when nature is under appreciated and under experienced. Some groups of people poison and even aimlessly kill our living environment.
Nowadays. the common modern man/woman is down a path of disconnection from the natural human habitat. Average, everyday people are more likely to spend time indoors and inactive—domesticated.
More people are eating fake, factory foods, and bathing their bodies in synthetic light bulbs. Developed countries, tribes, and nations are afflicted with common, yet, unnatural disease. These diseases are a result of unnatural acts, habits, and practices. They are reversible and preventable.
The top killers in the USA now consist of PREVENTABLE disease.
-Heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes II, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease.. blah blah etc..
But it’s not all our fault. Our American healthcare system is plagued with misinformation. It’s a sad truth, but the food and drug companies make A LOT of money on keeping you sick.
But there is hope…
The “Primal” Solution
More people are bringing awareness to the healing power of nature. More people are turning away from conventional medicine’s “sick” model and returning to the natural ways of our primal ancestors.
Many people have banded together in a movement towards growing towards a more natural themed life. Many in the ancestral health community are paving a new path to health by returning to our natural roots.
Heck, even some doctors are beginning to realize the healing power of nature and are prescribing patients to spend more time in nature. It seems like common sense, but now we have the science to prove what intuition has told us all along.
11 Reasons Why You Need More Nature
1. Sunlight—Vitamin D
We all know the warm fuzzy sensation we get from sunlight. It does more than just make us feel good. Sunlight provides our body with the input to create Vitamin D, which is essential to many cellular processes of the body—such as, maintaining strong bones. Vitamin D deficiency is serious and can result in a variety of disabling disease and mental illness.
Sunlight also helps to produce the happy-hormone, serotonin. It is no wonder a deficiency in sunlight is associated with depression, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, and memory loss—just to name a few.
2. Reduced Stress
Of the most immediately felt and well-studied benefits to visiting nature is the benefit of stress reduction. Studies in Japan have measured the stress hormone and immune marker changes of people who visit the lush Japanese forests.
Termed, “Forest bathing” this practice includes of taking a short, leisurely visit to the forest for health benefits.
One study of 420 participants found, that on average, forest bathers experienced a 12.4% decrease in cortisol level, 7.0% decrease in sympathetic nervous activity, 1.4% decrease in systolic blood pressure and 5.8% decrease in heart rate. It should also be noted that parasympathetic nerve activity increased by 55.0%, indicating a relaxed state.
This proves changes in stress response on a hormonal level. And with lower stress, comes lower blood pressure.
3. Improved Vision
Enjoying the sights and scenes of nature are not only visually appealing but can actually enhance our eyesight. An Australian study compared students’ level of outdoor activity with the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness).
The study found that those students who had the highest levels of outdoor activities had the lowest prevalence of nearsightedness.
A meta-analysis and systematic review looked at 23 studies regarding myopia in children and adolescents. Most interestingly, the meta-analysis indicated a 2% reduced odds of myopia for each additional hour spent outdoors per week.
4. Reduced Blood Pressure
Getting outside is one way you can improve your heart health. Going for a short walk can help to improve blood flow and cardiovascular function, but if you can hike in a natural setting—even better.
A Japanese study measured the effects of nature on blood pressure. In this study, a group of elderly patients was sent on a 7-day/7-night trip into the forest, while another group was sent into the city as a control group.
Blood pressure indicators were assessed over the weeklong period. Results showed that those elderly individuals who spent the week in nature experienced significant reductions in overall blood pressure (and other biomarkers), whereas the control group did not.
5. Reduced Depression and Anxiety
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can be eased by quality time in the great outdoors — (especially when that’s combined with exercise). Experiencing nature tends to inspire a sense of feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
One research study explored whether walking in nature may help individuals suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD). Participants were tested in mood and memory before and after a 50-minute walk in either a natural, or urban setting. Participants who walked in nature scored higher in both mood affect and memory, suggesting interacting with nature as an effective intervention for reducing symptoms of major depression.
6. Superb Short-term Memory
One study performed by Marc G. Berman at The University of Michigan looked at the effects of walking in nature versus walking in an urban setting.
First, the participants were tested in number memorization and recall. Then they were assigned to walk through either, the campus arboretum and botanical garden, or along a busy city street. The memory tests were repeated when the person returned.
The results showed that nature-walking group improved memory performance by almost 20%. By comparison, those who walked the busy street did not significantly improve on the memory test.
7. Enhanced Focus and Concentration
In a fast-paced world of constant distraction, the high prevalence of ADHD is widespread and on the rise. When we walk down a busy city street, there is a barrage of constant stimuli. Our minds spin in a whirlwind, going from one idea to the next. If we remove the constant noise seeking our attention, our minds can tune in to deeper states of focus.
Substantial research conducted among non-ADHD populations has shown that “symptoms” of ADHD—inattention, and impulsivity—are reduced after exposure to natural views and settings. More recently, a study on children with ADHD found that spending time doing activities in nature, decreased their symptoms of ADHD. Leading to increased ability concentrate and focus attention.
8. Improved Creativity
Other groups of scientists studied how nature affects high-level thinking and creativity in the brain.
When we remove the busy background noise from our attention, we create space for our creative juices to flow more easily. Another interesting study assessed groups of backpackers who spent 4-6 days hiking and camping in one of the following territories: Colorado, Washington, Maine, or Alaska. Backpackers were assessed using the Remote Associates Test (RAT), which has been widely used as a measure of creative thinking and insight problem-solving. Individuals first took the test on the morning of the first day, and then again the morning of the 3rd day.
Results showed that post-hike, individuals were able to able to perform better and answer more creative questions than prior to the backpack trip. The experiment shows that three days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on creative problem-solving tasks by a full 50% of a group of hikers.
One question this arises in this study is whether the benefits are due to an increased exposure to nature or decreased exposure to technology.
9. Improved Immune System
Exposure to plants, animal, and fungi of a wild environment provide a host of known immune-boosting benefits. Exposure to a variety of micro-organisms of forests can help to build resistance to colds, influenza, and other infections by increasing the immune system’s number of Natural Killer cells (NK)—a type of white blood cell critical to fighting off invaders.
One study found spending 3 days/2 nights in nature boosted immune system markers, including NK cells. More interestingly, this study found that the increased of NK levels lasted for more than 30 days after the forest trip. This suggests forest bathing once a month for elevated immune function.
10. Reduced Inflammation
High levels of inflammation are known to cause wide range of illness and disease including: autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and cancer. Spending time in nature may be one way to help keep your inflammation levels in check.
In one study, university students were divided into 2 groups. One group spent 2 days in nature, while the other spent 2 days in an urban setting. Those who spent time in the forest had lower levels of inflammatory and oxidative stress measurements.
11. Improved Sleep
Spending time outside promotes natural hormone regulation and keeps you in alignment with the natural day/night cycles—Circadian Rhythm. This natural day/night cycle is vital to the life process of all living organisms—and we humans are no different.
One study looked at sleep quality in men compared with access to a natural “green space” environment. Results indicated green-space access was protective to sleep for individuals 65+.
Personally, I get some of the best sleep when I go camping in the wild. Especially after a few days, I find my internal clock tuned to natural earth rhythm.
So there you have it. Above are just of the few of the many life boosting benefits of nature.
As a broad, general recommendation it seems anywhere from a few minutes to 3 days in nature yields results.
At the end of the day, do yourself good and spend more time outside in nature.