The Science of Nature

Nature truly is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It is an incredible sight to behold and something that we all should cherish always. However, did you know recent scientific research showed that spending time in nature is critical to health and also increases longevity when it comes to our lives? Getting out and about in the fresh air truly is good for you!

We have always been told of the benefits of nature, but we have never appreciated them as much as we should have done – however this has changed in the wake of the pandemic with more and more people keen to get out to their green spaces.

Thousands of participants in a recent study were more likely to report good health and wellbeing after spending two hours or more in nature every week whereas anything less than two hours did not make a difference.

But how exactly can nature help us?

Spend Time in The Woods

It is said that spending time in the woods may help to lower blood pressure, lower heart rate and stress hormones too. It can also lead to decreased anxiety, depression, and fatigue. There has also been scientific evidence to find that human anticancer natural killer cells increase exponentially after taking a walk in a forest. There may also be decreased inflammation too!

Spend Time in The Woods

Get Offline & Get Outdoors

A 2019 study found that half of 18 to 29 years olds were online almost constantly and spending little time outside with surveys for wildlife agencies finding it was becoming increasingly common that more and more people were spending little time outside.

This is quite a shocking figure!

What is perhaps even more shocking is the fact that three quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates! A fifth of the children actually did not play outside at all on an average day!

The Type of Nature Helps Too

With the information that children aren’t spending anywhere near enough time outdoors, it is important to remember that the type of nature can help too. More than one in nine children did not set in a park, a forest, a beach or any other natural environment in at least a year – many literally spending time indoors or in their enclosed private gardens. Whilst they are still getting outside in their gardens, it isn’t enough and they need much more freedom in nature – this in turn will be great for their health!

Scientists have also looked into whether the type of nature is beneficial too. An environmental scientist at Stanford did some research to see if a particular experience in nature would show a significant benefit. She chose two groups and assigned 45-minute walks for each. One group walked through the hills and others through another tree lined thoroughfare, but which was substantially busier.

They were in a similar area with just the circumstances changed but she found that the hill walkers performed better in cognitive tests she conducted afterwards. The walk-in nature really did make such a different to their moods and other cognitive functions.

Children playing outside

Can Planting Trees Help?

Other scientists are also studying biophysics in neighbourhoods and seeing if urban greening helps and if it has a direct impact on resident’s health – especially with conditions such as asthma, heart disease and dementia.

We are fascinated by the science of nature and we often talk about behaviour and the brain and why it works the way it does. It is interesting to see just how nature can affect us and whether this effect is positive or detrimental to our cognitive functions. With studies showing that spending more and more time outdoors is beneficial for our health, especially for certain conditions, it is little wonder that more of us are wanting to spend much more time outside.

Planting trees help