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3 Ways Nature Improves Your Health
A WALK IN THE WOODS IS THE PRESCRIPTION
3 WAYS CONTACT WITH NATURE IMPROVES YOUR HEALTH
Our ancestors were deeply connected to their natural environment, mostly because their survival depended on it. With no Whole Foods available, those who could best track a mammoth, find water, and forage for edible plants kept themselves alive and passed on their genes. Given our history as hunter-gatherers, it’s no wonder contact with nature provides us with several health benefits. A MEMORY BOOST In a University of Michigan study, a group of students were asked to take a memory test that involved repeating numbers back to researchers. Next, researchers separated the students into two groups. Group A took a walk around an arboretum and Group B walked along busy city streets. Afterward, they were asked to
one study from the University of Essex, participants with major depressive disorder reported an improvement in self-esteem and mood after spending time in nature. Exercising while in nature resulted in even more of a mood boost for participants. A CALMING EFFECT Research also shows that spending time in nature reduces stress. In a study conducted by Chiba University in Japan, participants spent two nights in the forest. Researchers evaluated their levels of stress hormones during and after this period and compared it to their normal work days in the city. Across the board, participants’ stress levels were much lower during the days spent in the forest and for several days afterward.
take the memory test again. Group A, the students who had walked in the arboretum, performed 20 percent better on the memory test. Group B didn’t show any marked improvement. Additional research has corroborated the memory-enhancing effects of nature. A MOOD BOOST Observing the benefits nature has for cognitive function, scientists wondered what effects it might have on individuals diagnosed with depression. In
Today, we’re less connected to our natural environment than our ancestors were. Modern comforts and technology mean we don’t have to go outside to get our food. But nature is still accessible and you don’t have to go far to find it. In many of the studies, even minor exposure to the outdoors, like adding plants to your home or looking out a window during work, showed health benefits. This winter, find ways to bring a little more nature into your life each day. Your brain will thank you.
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