A studypublished by the Nature Publishing Group in 2013 shows that people who spend two hours a week in green spaces, like local parks or other natural environments, are more likely to have improved health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. This result emphasizes the value of the well-known fact that nature has a positive impact on a person’s overall health and well-being.
Many have attributed spending time in nature with reducing stress, which affects an individual’s physical and mental state. The idea is what people see, hear, and experience can change their mood as well as alter how their nervous and immune systems function. This means taking nature trips and participating in activities like birdwatching, camping, hiking, fishing, and stargazing have a significant effect on a person’s health.
Physical Health Benefits
On nature trips, people get more than just a pleasurable experience. Due to a better supply of oxygen from the trees and a dose of vitamin D from the sun, they can also receive physical health benefits such as:
- Clear lungs – Fresh air helps a person’s respiratory system function better. Since they are exposed to higher levels of oxygen, cleansing and tissue repair in their lungs improve.
- Improve heart function – Better oxygen intake also affects a person’s cardiovascular system. It helps lower blood pressure and slow down the heart rate as the heart doesn’t need to exert too much effort pumping blood.
- Receive more energy – When the oxygen level in the blood increases, it also reaches the brain, which may help a person feel energized.
- Build strong bones – Vitamin D plays a large role in one’s bone health. By being exposed to the sun, one can increase their body’s way of naturally creating vitamin D, which may help build strong bones. On the other hand, low vitamin D levels may cause bone-wasting diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia in adults.
- Boost their immunity – Vitamin D also contributes to boosting the body’s immune system. Similarly, some plants also help when they release organic compounds called phytoncides into the air. In addition, sunlight may help fight infection by energizing the body’s T cells.
- Promote better sleep – Getting adequate sun exposure can help improve an individual’s sleep cycle. The body’s internal clock works better when the cells in the eyes receive enough amount of light. To receive the best result, get some sunlight during the early morning. Since older adults absorb less light and may likely experience sleep problems, they may benefit the most from this.
- Help manage their weight – Partly due to the improved sleep cycle and energy use, morning sunlight may also help individuals keep a healthy weight. Also, taking nature trips may encourage them to be more physically active.
Mental Health Benefits
Seeing lush greens or hearing the sound of waves crashing on the shore can help a person feel more relaxed. While they don’t need to participate in physical activities during nature trips, being surrounded by nature may give them the following benefits:
- Soothe and manage pain – Individuals are often engrossed by the beauty of nature scenes, which distract them from their pain and any discomfort. They may also receive a feeling of serenity when surrounded by trees, mountains, water, and other natural elements.
- Calm overactive minds – People who become interested in views of nature or spend time in nature become better at paying attention and focusing because they put their concentration on what they can see or experience rather than letting their minds wander.
- Reduces stress – Being outside and getting adequate sun exposure helps the body to naturally regulate melatonin. Although this chemical is known to help control one’s sleep cycle, it may also help reduce stress.
- Improves one’s mood – Sunshine boosts the body’s production of serotonin, a chemical that improves moods and helps keep a person stay calm. In addition, getting enough sunlight helps individuals alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. It is a condition when their mood is affected by a few hours of daylight in the fall and winter months.
These are just some of the benefits of taking nature trips, whether spending a day on the beach or camping on the weekend. Any individual looking into improving their overall health may want to consider planning several outings with their friends, family, or on their own.
Due to the connection of nature and psychological well-being, some rehab facilities include nature therapy as part of treating substance use disorder. The objective is for patients to interact with nature in some way. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to engage in physical activities such as hiking, camping, or jogging outside. They may also benefit from more relaxed experiences like enjoying a picnic, sitting on the lawn, or watching the sunset. Although nature therapy is beneficial, the treatment program will depend on what the patient needs.
Rehab facilities in the United States offer different treatment plans. For instance, in Florida, Miami drug rehab centers may offer nature therapy while those in Orlando offer something else. Even with the available options, the best treatment for individuals with substance use disorder is the one their doctor recommends.