Scientific research is increasingly demonstrating what many of us have known for years - time spent in nature is a positively restorative experience. The mounting body of evidence continues to show that time spent in nature is beneficial for mental, emotional, and physical health.
Attention and Concentration
Researchers found that individuals who spent time in natural environments performed better on tasks involving directed-attention activities than individuals who spent time in an urban environment. Their research supports the idea time in nature provides restorative cognitive benefits.
Negative Thoughts and Depressive Feelings
Participants who went on a 90-minute nature walk during a 2015 study from Stanford University showed decreased activity in the part of the brain that is associated with a key-factor in depression. "This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation - something that may explain how nature makes us feel better," said lead author Gregory Bratman.
Time spent in and near nature can have positive impacts on our stress levels. Studies from Japan show that walks in nature reduce levels of salivary cortisol, a key factor associated with levels of stress, compared to walks in an urban environment. Results from these studies also show decreased blood pressure and pulse as a result of these nature walks.
Leave No Trace
It's clear that time spent in nature is valuable for all of us. In fact, Irelands woodlands saw more than 12 million visits in 2016. With more and more people seeking the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of the outdoors every year, it's more important than ever to practice Leave No Trace principles when spending time outdoors. By protecting our outdoor spaces from the cumulative impacts of so many visits, we are in turn protecting our valuable places of refuge and mental restoration for years to come.
Practice the Leave No Trace Seven Principles on every outdoor trip to protect the places we all love