I’ve been a fan of the outdoors since as long as I can remember. Whether it was hunting for crawdads in the creek as a kid, to going on all of the Girl Scout campouts, to my adult life living in the coastal mountains of California, I have always felt an affinity for nature. What is it that draws me back? Is it the romantic memories of long gone happy moments, or is it something more concrete? Well, turns out that there is actual scientific evidence that being surrounded by nature is actually very good for you physically as well as mentally.
Here are 5 surprising, research-supported ways that your day could get a whole lot better by being outdoors.
- Better sleep. The more sunshine you get (sorry Seattle), the more melatonin your body makes, which makes it more likely that you will sleep better.
- Lower stress. Researchers have found that heart rate, blood pressure, and self-reported measures of stress are lower when people experience time outdoors. Hospital patients who have a view of green spaces outside their windows recovered faster than those who did not.
- Research has found that spending time around trees boosts our immune system. Fresh air contains phytoncides (produced by plants), which raise the activity of special white blood cells. Even just looking at trees can provide this boost.
- Relief from eye strain. Ever spend a whole day on your computer? If you have then you know that it’s important to take breaks and focus on objects farther away, so your eyes can rest.
- Cognitive focus. Being in nature allows the part of our brain that we use for focused activity to rest.