Spending time in tree-filled areas has physical and mental health benefits according to research. The University of Illinois found that viewing trees in urban environments can reduce physiological markers of stress in adults, while research from Nippon Medical School in Tokyo found that “forest bathing” can boost the immune system. Furthermore, the University of Michigan found that spending time in nature can improve cognitive performance, with participants who walked in nature showing a 20% improvement in short-term memory compared to those who walked in urban environments. Spending time in nature has been shown to have mood-boosting and mental clarity benefits.
Researchers Discover New Benefits of Spending Time in Tree-Filled Areas
Many people experience a sense of relaxation and inner peace when they spend time in nature, and specifically, in tree-filled areas. It’s an undeniable feeling that we often describe as “feeling the calm” or “feeling grounded.” But beyond these emotional benefits, a growing body of research has also begun to reveal the many physical and mental health benefits of spending time in these natural environments.
In this article, we’ll explore the latest research, which shows just how important it is for all of us to prioritize spending time among the trees.
The Power of Trees
Trees are remarkable organisms. They provide shade, shelter, and clean air. They also help moderate temperatures, reduce noise pollution, and support the biodiversity of other species. In recent years, tree medicine has become a popular form of alternative wellness. The belief is that simply having a tree nearby can have therapeutic benefits.
But beyond these traditional explanations, recent scientific studies have provided a more nuanced understanding of how spending time near trees can contribute to our health and wellbeing.
A recent study conducted by the University of Illinois confirmed that viewing urban trees can reduce physiological markers of stress in adults. The authors measured levels of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, in subjects who were taken on walks in either urban or rural environments. When walking in nature, the subjects showed a significant reduction in cortisol levels, indicating that spending time next to trees can reduce stress.
Boosting Immune Function
Research at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo found that “forest bathing” or shinrin-yoku, which involves walking in a wooded area, breathing in the natural chemicals put out by trees, and inhaling the scent of the forest, can boost the immune system. Results showed an increase in the number of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that fights viruses and tumors.
Improving Cognitive Function
According to a University of Michigan study, spending time in nature can improve cognitive performance. Participants who walked in nature showed a 20% improvement in short-term memory compared to those who walked in urban environments. Similarly, another study found that participants scored higher on mental tests after a walk in nature compared to in an urban area.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How much time do I need to spend in nature to see benefits?
– Even a few minutes a day can have a positive impact on your mood and stress levels, but studies indicate that the benefits can increase the longer you spend outdoors.
2. What if I don’t have access to a natural area?
– While spending time in nature is ideal, it’s not always possible. If you don’t have access to a park or green space, consider bringing nature indoors by adding plants to your home or office.
3. What type of nature is best?
– While all forms of nature can have a positive impact, research suggests that spending time around trees can have especially strong benefits. So, if possible, seek out wooded areas for maximum benefits.
4. Do I need to be physically active to see these benefits?
– While exercise can certainly enhance the positive effects of nature, research has shown that simply being in nature can produce significant improvements in mood, mental clarity, and overall wellbeing.
In conclusion, the benefits of spending time in nature have been well-documented. From reducing stress to improving immune function and cognitive performance, there are good reasons to prioritize spending time around trees. Whether it’s a walk in the park or simply viewing trees from your window, taking the time to connect with nature can improve your physical and mental health.