Why nature is healthy for you

Chris Kresser, an L.Ac who usually writes about food and healthy babies, has a great blog post today about the importance of getting out into nature:

You may not have considered the possibility of fostering a “relationship” with nature – after all, how can you have a relationship with a non-human entity?

From an anecdotal perspective, how many of us have taken a long walk in the woods, and felt soothed by the sound of the wind in the trees and the crisp smell of leaves? Or have been moved by the beauty of a snow-capped mountain range? Who wouldn’t enjoy an evening watching the sunset at the beach, sand between the toes, with the rhythmic ocean waves lapping at the shore?

Experiencing these profound moments of peace, happiness, or wellness in the context of nature is a universal event, and demonstrates that contact with nature is an integral part of our well-being as humans. In a public health context, exposure to nature has been used as therapy for short-term recovery from stress or mental fatigue, faster physical recovery from illness, and long-term overall improvement on people’s health and well being (1).

Research supports the theory that our relationship with nature is a fundamental component of maintaining good health. This “biophilia hypothesis” suggests that there is an innate affiliation of human beings to other living organisms, both flora and fauna, and perhaps even an innate bond with nature more generally.

The biophilia theory is supported by both common sense and clinical evidence. Many controlled trials and observational studies have demonstrated the positive therapeutic value of both the physical and visual exposure to nature, with benefits shown for a diverse range of diagnoses spanning from schizophrenia to obesity.

Read the entire blog post: Go outside! (Why contact with nature is crucial for health.)