“Humans’ need for nature varies considerably for a variety of reasons but has also been linked to evolution. For some, the need, or trait, is strong,”Gerard Kyle, PhD
We are innately, intrinsically linked to wilderness. Most don’t realize how tightly and too many aren’t closely linked at all. Millions have learned to thrive in urban environments, though I can’t imagine how. It turns out, research studies tend to agree.
Study after study is revealing an indoor life leads to more depression and physical ailments. They are also building evidence that ‘nature deficit disorder’ is real and curing it can cure much of what ails us. The list of improvements in health gained by time outside is long.
Some benefits delivered by time outside are stronger immunity and improvements in depression. These occur when the body gets optimum levels of Vitamin D. Supplements of this vital hormone can work, but good old sunshine and eating foods high in D deliver the best doses. Here’s a great article by Dr. Mark Hyman on how best to incorporate D into your life.
Vitamin D isn’t the only magic bullet delivered by nature. Any amount of time outdoors has been proven to health markers. Dr. Frances Kuo published an abstract in 2013 that asked many questions about how much nature is enough. Her answer was “The evidence to date suggests, broadly, that total exposure is important; all forms and quantities of exposure are helpful; and the greener the better.”
Time spent completely submersed in a natural environment boosts the health in even more ways. Tracking biometrics on people who visit forest-bathing sites in Japan reveals lower blood pressure and reduction in cortisol levels.
Cortisol is that crazy little stress hormone we need at times when our nervous system wigs out. It’s the hormone that triggers a ‘fight, flight or freeze response’. Limited doses can keep us from danger or give us additional strength to carry through a catastrophe. If continually produced, though, cortisol throws kinks into the metabolic workings in our bodies. Incidentally, There’s a growing body of believers in the theory that stress is the gateway to all disease.
Reducing stress puts cortisol levels in a healthy range. Bathing among trees a great way to do just that. So much so that I am not alone in believing we were meant to be among trees.
However you choose to complete your need for connection to the wild, it’s a safe bet that your whole body will benefit from it.