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This Is What Happened To My Brain When I Spent More Time In Nature

Source | FastCompany : By MICHAEL GROTHAUS 

It’s a refrain that kids have heard from their parents for generations: “Go outside and play. It’ll be good for you.” Little did we know as children how valuable that advice was. Science has shown that parental wisdom to be more accurate than we realized. Study after study after study has now shown that there are multiple health benefits to spending time in nature.

Sara L. Warber, MD, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan and an honorary associate professor at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter in the U.K., has been studying the benefits of spending time in nature for years. Through her and other scientists’ research, they’ve found four main areas humans benefit from as a result of spending time in nature.

Physical benefits. “People tend to be more active when in nature. Also, people enjoy being physically active in nature more than indoors,” she says. Because of this, people are more likely to repeat the activity, which evidence has shown leads to lowered blood pressure, improved immune system function, and better endocrine system balance.

Mental benefits. “People who participate in group walks in nature have greater mental well-being, less depression, less stress,” says Warber. “There is also a large body of literature that shows better cognitive performance following a nature experience, and quicker recovery from stressful exposures.”

Emotional benefits. “Youth in camp settings, people in parks and people on group walks in nature experience more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions,” says Warber.

Spiritual benefits. Both youth and adults experience more transcendence, serenity, and tranquility when they spend time in nature.

Those physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits seem almost too good to be true. I asked Warber if science has found a mechanism or process inside our bodies that is triggered by being in nature.

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