In honor of Earth Month, we're highlighting the importance of going back to nature.
Recreation outside is a powerful way to relieve stress and feel happier. The benefits of fresh air on our health are undeniable: it lowers blood pressure, relieves anxiety and depression, aids in weight loss, reduces risk for cardiovascular disease and more! With so many benefits to reap from spending time outdoors (and with Mother Nature in her glory), there's no excuse not to get outside this Earth month.
According to a study of 20,000 people by the University of Exeter, when people spent a total of two hours outside in green spaces during their week, they were more likely to feel psychologically balanced and generally healthier overall than people who did not get outside. If two hours a week is all it takes, that sounds pretty manageable to us! Especially when you don’t think of it as two hours a week, but instead 17 minutes a day, or half an hour a few times a week.
Dr. Jason Strauss, director of geriatric psychiatry at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance notes that when trying to get out more into nature, the important thing to remember to make sure that this habit sticks, is to make this a part of your daily life. So that means if weekly treks into the hills or long walks on the beach aren’t a viable option for you, your local park will do nicely instead. Basically, as long as you get out there you should reap the many benefits that being in nature has to offer.
Speaking of benefits, let's get into some specifics here. Studies have shown that going out for a nice walk, or even listening to nature sounds as you go to sleep, can lower blood pressure and the levels of cortisol in our body, which is the hormone responsible for making us feel stressed. If that doesn’t convince you, being in nature has also proven successful in reducing nervous system arousal, reducing anxiety, lowering aggression levels, and improving our overall mood.
All over the world, people are waking up to the insane benefits that a few hours a week of nature exposure can have upon a person.
In Japan, for example, researchers believe they have discovered that certain chemicals and aerosols released naturally by forests, when breathed in by humans have the ability to elevate levels of Natural Killer or NK cells in the immune system, which fight tumors and infections. Over in the UK, A 2015 study of 2,000 people found that more exposure to nature resulted in lower crime rates.
We all need a break now and then, but not all breaks can be beneficial to us. So maybe instead of scrolling around aimlessly between the same three apps on your phone for hours (hey no judgement here, we’re totally guilty of this ourselves), why not throw on your AirPods, listen to a podcast and go for a soothing nature walk. Or better yet, ditch the pods and the phone and call it a retro walk. Sometimes when the stress gets to be too much, the best option is to disconnect and lose yourself in nature. And hey while you’re out there it wouldn’t hurt to keep on the lookout for any bits of trash, we only get one planet to live on after all.
Here at ALPAKA we’ve been getting out there and reconnecting with nature. So, what are you waiting for? The great outdoors is waiting!
The studies mentioned in this post can be found here: