As Kiwis, we’re pretty lucky to have natural spaces available to us no matter where we live. Even our most urbanised cities have parks, rivers, or are close to the sea. In many places, we can gaze up at mountains without even having to leave our neighbourhoods.
There’s a huge amount of scientific evidence telling us that spending time in those environments can give us a health boost. A 2019 study showed that you start to see benefits after spending about two hours in nature per week, and the effect is biggest if you’re spending time by the sea or in the mountains – but if you can’t manage that, just looking at pictures of trees help. Here are six ways spending time in nature will make you healthier.
1. It boosts your immune system
People who spend time in nature have stronger immune systems. Especially as children, healthy exposure to microbes boosts your immune system’s strength, and a safe amount of time in the sun is the best way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
2. It reduces anxiety
Connecting with nature reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which will reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, like a racing heart and sweaty palms.
3. It fights disease
Spending time in nature reduces inflammation and supports the formation of natural killer cells, which are one of the body’s best defences against cancer. After surgery, patients with hospital rooms with a view to nature recover faster, suffer less complications and request less pain medication.
4. It lowers blood pressure
Time in nature is proven to lower diastolic blood pressure (the second number in your blood pressure reading). Some scientists believe this has something to do with the chemical produced by trees.
5. It helps you sleep
Spending just one weekend camping in the bush automatically resets your internal clock, allowing you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep for a longer period of time.
6. It boosts creativity
Time in the outdoors has been proven to be restorative, helping you recover from mental fatigue. This means that after time in nature you can generally concentrate better, remember more details and produce more creative ideas.
Spending time outside is one important way to tend to your overall wellbeing; healthy eating is another. Fitfood meal packs take care of that – they’re nutritionally balanced and portion controlled, keeping you in optimal health, so you can stay fighting fit and full of energy for all your outdoor pursuits.