Enjoy Nature to Improve Your Health

Turn on the TV, open a magazine or newspaper, or look up health information online, and you’re bound to find a long list of prescription medicines designed to treat many different health problems. While medications can be helpful, most come with side effects that impact your health in some other way. You might not get a prescription for enjoying nature, but new research suggests that time spent outdoors or indoors with plants and natural light can have a positive impact on your health.

Harvard University researchers found that getting outside can raise vitamin D levels, increase exercise activity, improve your mood and memory, and even speed the healing process following an injury or illness. Other studies show that even artificial environments that include elements of nature can be good for your health. Outside or inside, here are a few ways being closer to nature can help:

Increase vitamin D levels

Studies show that vitamin D helps strengthen your immune system and may help prevent osteoporosis, certain types of cancer, depression, heart attacks, and strokes. Ten minutes of exposure to direct sunlight is a great way to get vitamin D. But it can be hard to do during the winter months in some areas.

Burn more calories

Exercise in any form is good for your health. You might go to the gym or exercise at home, but studies show getting outside is a good way to burn additional calories too. Studies show that taking a walk in a garden, park, or natural setting away from the city is also a good way to exercise, burn calories, reduce stress, and improve your health.

Improve your mood

Getting outside or just being in a room filled with windows and natural light can improve your mood. And if that’s not an option, even a simulated environment that’s well-lit with artificial light can help you feel happier, ward off depression and even combat seasonal affective disorder.

These are just a few of the many benefits that come from spending time in nature, both indoors and outdoors. The bottom line, according to University of Illinois researchers, is “nature is good for us and has both long and short term mental and physical benefits.”