Nature: It Might Just Save Your Life

Normally I don’t publish material from other sources, but when this Facebook friend’s post popped up confirming many of the things that I’ve felt intuitively (but, sadly, without solid science to back me up), I felt like I needed to share it.

It comes originally from a page called Spirit Science and Metaphysics, which, admittedly, sounds several shades too New-Agey for me personally, but the info all comes from credible sources and studies.

And believe me, this is very likely the first and last time I will ever quote (or misquote) Huey Lewis and the News, but here it is:

You don’t need money, don’t take fame
Don’t need no credit card to ride this train
It’s strong and it’s sudden and it’s cruel sometimes
But it might just save your life
That’s the power of [nature]


1. In a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers found that people experienced more deaths from heart disease and respiratory disease when they lived in areas where trees had disappeared.

Suburbs: before and after

Suburbs: before and after

2. Those who live in areas with a significant amount of green space have lower levels of cortisol (known as the “stress hormone”), and their self-reported feeling of stress were lower than those who spend more time in urban settings.

3. Spending days in nature, away from electronic devices, is linked with 50 percent higher scores on a test for creativity. The findings provide “a rationale for trying to understand what is a healthy way to interact in the world, and that burying yourself in front of a computer 24/7 may have costs that can be remediated by taking a hike in nature,” [notes] study researcher David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

Hiking, Killary, Ireland

Hiking, Killary, Ireland

4. Walking through natural spaces [provides] evidence of lower frustration…and higher concentration and positive emotions.

An autumn walk in the woods

An autumn walk in the woods

5. ADHD symptoms in children are greatly reduced when in the presence of nature and after doing activities in nature. Findings were consistent across age, gender, and income groups; community types; geographic regions; and diagnoses.

6. Two hours of forest walking improves the following sleep characteristics: actual sleep time, immobile minutes, self-rated depth of sleep, and sleep quality.

The kids crashed in a cottage in Hungary after a day of hiking

The kids crashed in a cottage in Hungary after a day of hiking

7. Living in a green environment with plants in your home is linked to lower stress and improved stress moderation and management.

8. Walking in nature decreases brain fatigue. When volunteers walked through urbanized areas with heavy traffic, their brain wave patterns consistently showed that they were more [agitated] and frustrated than when they walked through the parkland, where brain-wave readings became more meditative. This study encourages “taking a break from work and going for a walk in a green space or just sitting, or even viewing green spaces from your office window.”

I bet D's brain readings are off-the-chart meditative here

I bet D’s brain wave readings are off-the-chart meditative here

9. Juyoung Lee of Chiba University found that leisurely forest walks, compared with urban walks, yield a 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a seven percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a 5.8 percent decrease in heart rate. On subjective tests, study participants also report better moods and lower anxiety.

"Aroint thee, cortisol!" the rump-fed rapscallions cry

“Aroint thee, cortisol!” the rump-fed rapscallions cry

10. Nature walks can even fight disease and cancer by increasing your NK (natural killer) cells that are essential to the immune system. When participants agreed to go on morning and afternoon nature hikes, blood tests showed that their NK cells had increased 40 percent. A month later, their NK count was still 15 percent higher than when they started. By contrast, during urban walking trips, NK levels didn’t change.

NK cells? Yeah, I got 'em coming out my ears, baby!

NK cells? Yeah, I got ’em coming out my ears, baby!

Holy natural history! Simply spending time in nature can produce all of the benefits above? Then why don’t we do more of it?

I started this with, God forgive me, Huey Lewis. Let me finish with Walt Whitman.

The land and sea, the animals, fishes, and birds, the sky of heaven and the orbs, the forests, mountains, and rivers, are not small themes … but folks expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which always attach to dumb real objects … they expect him to indicate the path between reality and their souls. Men and women perceive the beauty well enough … probably as well as he. The passionate tenacity of hunters, woodmen, early risers, cultivators of gardens and orchards and fields, the love of healthy women for the manly form, seafaring persons, drivers of horses, the passion for light and the open air, all is an old varied sign of the unfailing perception of beauty and of a residence of the poetic in outdoor people.

Or perhaps I’ll let Alice Walker sum it up more succinctly: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

A purple pasque flower

A purple pasque flower

9 thoughts on “Nature: It Might Just Save Your Life

  1. Pingback: Plants, Poisons, and the Future of Life on Earth | Field Notes From Fatherhood

      • Hi again!
        Thanks for sharing your link. I just took a look at it and it prompted some interesting thoughts. I have a Bachelor of Science degree, so I am a bit of a science fan and agree that facts that can be experienced and proven are what make the foundations of science. That then leads me to think that people are being misled when the scientists say evolution is real, as it can’t be experieced or proven except within a species, not between species. It can only ever be a theory.
        That brings me to my next thought. I have a faith that I experience and prove daily. I am a Christian and my life is based on a real experience of knowing the living God. He is as real to me as my own father or mother, He knows me and I know Him and I walk with Him each day…now based on my experience and personal proof of answered prayer, I’d say my faith has more back up than the evolution theory!
        I suspect there was a big bang when God did something as amazing as creating the world and the universe! I stand in awe of Him when I look at the creation around me.
        Thanks for your posts, I do enjoy reading them and think it’s a really good blog. We happen to be planning our fist family fishing trip when we go camping in the summer with some friends of ours…so you have definitely had some influence! Thank you!
        Here is a link for you…though a lot longer than yours, this guy is a brilliant communicator and it’s a great watch, all about the universe, down to the microscopic…enjoy
        Also I’d love to know what language materials you use for teaching english? We are starting to do that here and we could do with all the help we can get.
        Have a great day and enjoy your walks in creation! 🙂
        http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=PtpTk2ENq7o&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DPtpTk2ENq7o

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        • I haven’t taught English as a language in a lot of years. I was primarily a literature teacher, so we covered poetry, prose, and drama. Not really the stuff for beginners. The online resources are almost infinite, though, and you can always look for highly-rated material on Amazon.
          And thanks for the link – I’ll have a look!

          Like

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