Being out in nature does your body, mind and soul a great deal of good. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the closer you live to nature, the healthier you’re likely to be. The study took an objective look at 345,143 Dutch people’s medical records, assessing health status for 24 conditions, including cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological diseases. The records were then correlated with how much green space was located within one kilometre, and three kilometres, of a person’s postal code. Researchers found that those people who lived within one kilometre of a park or a wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who lived farther away from green space.
The reality is most of us spend the vast majority of our time inside – with one estimate reporting that the average North American spends 90% of his or her life inside. With July in full swing, let’s remind ourselves that being outdoors can be amazing.
Here are four potential benefits of getting your daily does of “Vitamin Nature”.
1. It can improve your focus
Can’t decide where to go on your next weekend getaway? You might want to consider a trip to the countryside. According to a study published in Psychological Science, interacting with nature gives your brain a break from everyday overstimulation, which can have a restorative effect on your attention levels.
2. It can improve your outlook
If you’re dreading the thought of spending another workout chained to the treadmill, move your run outdoors for a quick burst of happiness. A study from Glasgow University showed that people who walked, biked, or ran in nature had a lower risk of poor mental health than people who worked out indoors.
3. Fresh Air
Sometimes, someone telling you to get some “fresh air” is a subtle way of saying “go away”. As it turns out, outdoor pollution is bad for your health, but indoor pollutants can be far worse. The EPA New England states that indoor pollutants are normally two to five (and up to 100) times higher than outdoor pollutants. According to the California Air Resources Board, “indoor air-pollutants are 25-62% greater than outside levels and this difference poses a serious risk to health.” (source). Such health risks include heart disease, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and asthmatic attacks.
4. Your concentration will improve
Researchers have, in fact, reported that children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. Researchers from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, found that children with ADHD scored higher on a test of concentration after a walk through a park than after a walk through a residential neighborhood or downtown area.
Did you know that it is currently FREE for UBC Staff and Faculty to visit the UBC Botanical Gardens or The Nitobe Memorial Gardens. You must have your employee ID to avail of this offer. UBC Community members also receive discounts on the Greenheart Canopy Walkway eco-adventure (only $10) and the Garden’s full lineup of workshops on topics such as Organic Gardening, Botanical Drawing and even an outdoor movie night in celebration of Organic Week. These fun and informative workshops are a great way to learn some new healthy skills and de-stress.
Visit the Walking@UBC page for information on lists of active walking groups and walking related activities at UBC’s Point Grey Campus. All groups and activities welcome newcomers and participants of all abilities. Click here for more information.
Visit the Fitting in Fitness @ UBC page for tips and hints on how to increase physical activity levels. Click here for more information
Visit the Corporate Health, Fitness & Family Discounts page for information on the wide range of Health, Fitness and Family discounts both on and off campus available to UBC Vancouver staff and faculty. Click here for more information.