How to make the most of a health hack that’s been under our noses all along

Technology overload, constant pressure to succeed, overworking, a brimming calendar — modern life sure can take a toll, can’t it? If only there was a completely free, available 24/7, scientifically proven, universal remedy that required nothing on our part other than getting our butts off the sofa and taking a few short steps towards the front door.

It’s nature we’re hinting at here, of course. Trees. Fresh air. Lakes. Rivers. Mountains. All that cool stuff that looks amazing on your Mac screensaver. You may have taken it for granted so far, but not to fear, Mother Nature is a tough old bird that stands resilient, looking after us in all the right ways despite our constant lack of gratitude and respect — she’s a doting, severely underpaid nurse, if you will. Knowing nature therapy may sound a bit hippy-dippy to some, we’ve laid out the how, the what and the why of the great outdoors.

The Benefits
We all know that a walk in the park is great for the body inside and out, but the benefits of spending time outside extends far beyond just fitness and fresh air. It’s time we pulled our heads out of the medicine cabinet and instead looked more at what’s around us. Serving as a prescription for seriously better health, our natural environment has been proven to aid the body in an infinite number of ways, including lowering blood pressure, eliminating fatigue, reducing inflammation, improving short-term memory and boosting the immune system. Its benefits on the mind are becoming more and more apparent too, with an immersion into nature touted as an organic remedy to an array of mental health issues, from anxiety and depression to cognitive disorders.

The Science
Still not convinced? Don’t take our word for it, for we’re not the only ones rhapsodising about the great outdoors. A 2018 report published from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School reveals that exposure to greenery reduces the risk of type II diabetes, premature death, stress, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. On the other side of the globe, researchers at the University of Queensland have studied the dose of nature required to benefit health, subsequently finding that just 30 minutes of green peace was enough to reduce high blood pressure by nine percent and depression by seven. Don’t trust the Aussies? A study from the University of British Colombia, which was subsequently published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, found that taking a brief moment to look at nature increases feelings of happiness, connectedness and overall wellbeing.

The How
We’re lucky that we live in one of the most beautiful countries on the planet (if we do say so ourselves) teeming with outdoorsy goodness. Godzone has everything in spades; beaches, mountains, vast forests and shimmering lakes, so if a relaxing week sunning it up on the beach sounds more insipid than idyllic, take a hike instead. Roughing it not quite your thing? Getting a breath of fresh air doesn’t have to be all Into The Wild, living off berries and substituting leaves for toilet paper. It’s 2018 and there’s a trove of luxury camping spots that allow you to be immersed in nature all while having a supply of electrical outlets on-hand, a cloud-like bed and, perhaps, most importantly, a fully functioning toilet.

Wellbeing


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