February 01, 2020

The great outdoors

Nature's many benefits

Waves lapping up on the shore. Leaves changing color in a dense forest. A glorious sunset. Nature can be beautiful, but it's also beneficial.

Whether your favorite outdoor place is a trail in the woods, a trout stream or even your own garden, spending time in nature may improve your health in many ways, such as helping to lower your stress, lift your mood or foster enjoyable physical activity.

Natural benefits

Spending time in nature can evoke many positive feelings such as awe, wonder and calm. Time in nature can also be invigorating or provide a harshness that can be rewarding to endure. In addition, studies have found an association between time in nature and benefits to mental and physical health, such as these:

  • Exposure to natural settings appears to help lower stress, heart rate and diastolic blood pressure.
  • Women who had heart attacks had shorter hospital stays in sunny rooms compared with sunless rooms.
  • Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have better symptom relief after taking part in activities in green, outdoor settings than in less natural environments.
  • For those burned out from focusing on specific tasks, spending time in nature or looking at nature scenes may help restore their ability to concentrate better.

Studies define nature in various ways, examining everything from forests to trees along streets. Mayo Clinic experts say that many types of contact with nature and green spaces can be beneficial, including taking a stroll...