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8 scientific reasons why nature is good for your health

You’ve heard or read it on the Internet before; nature is one of the best medicines out there. So much so that doctors in Scotland have been authorised to prescribe nature to their patients.

Here at KajoMag, we searched high and low for the scientific proof of why nature is good for you:

If you are picking a vacation spot, why not pick somewhere near the nature instead of a metropolitan city? Credits: Pexels.
1.An experience with nature helps to reduce depression

According to a study published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) in 2015, nature experiences reduces rumination.

So what is rumination? It is a repetitive thought which focuses on negative aspects of the self, a known risk factor for mental illness.

This research showed that participants who went for a 90-min walk in nature reportedly had lower levels of rumination compared with those who walked through an urban environment.

In other words, being outdoor does helps you to lower your chances of getting depressed and the risk of having mental illness.

It has been scientifically proven that being in the outdoors helps to reduce depression risks. Credits: Pexels.

2. Living in an urban area with more green space is also beneficial

Even if nature is not that accessible to you, living in an urban area with more green space is also beneficial.

A study has shown that individuals have lower mental distress when living in places with more greenery.

Although the effects are relatively small, it does have cumulative benefits when you have some trees or plants outside your doorstep.

It is better to live in a residential area with more green space. Credits: Pexels.

3. Spending time in the forest has proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure

Forest bathing has been a part of the Japanese national public health program since 1982. It is basically the practice of being in the presence of trees.

In a study conducted by Japan’s Chiba University, the researchers measured the physiological effects of 280 subjects. These parameters included salivary cortisol (which increases with stress), blood pressure, pulse rate and heart rate.

They compared these results from subjects who spent a day in the city and of those who spent 30 minutes in the forest.

Surprisingly, the study concluded that the forests did actually have a visible effect as subjects in lower concentration of cortisol, pulse rate and blood pressure.

4.A day trip to the forest can also improve immunity

If you haven’t hear of NK cells, they are natural killer cells that are important to the innate immune system.

Renowned for their healthy lifestyles and longevity, the Japanese have also proven that simply making a day trip to a forest park can increase human NK cells activity. They also found that making that just one day visit to a forest park can increase the number of NK cells in your body.

Apart from that, the group of researchers from Nippon Medical School, Tokyo found that such a trip can increase levels of intracellular anti-cancer proteins and all of these effects can last for at least 7 days after the trip.

Practice forest bathing just by spending a day in the forest. Credits: Pexels.
5.Children who spend more time in green and blue (beach) spaces have lower ADHD symptoms

In 2012, a group of researchers in Barcelona, Spain was investigating the impact of contact with green spaces and blue spaces (beaches) on children’s mental health.

Then the result came back that there beneficial impacts of spending longer time in green spaces and beaches as well as living in residential area surrounding greenness on children.

Evidently, these factors reduce symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in schoolchildren.

6. The sounds and sights of nature help to reduce pain during flexible bronschoscopy

Flexible bronschoscopy is a procedure which allows a clinician to examine the breathing passages of the lungs. The clinician will insert a thin tube called a bronchoscope is placed in the nose or mouth.

There has been a study in Chest Journal that showed that distracting patients with the sounds and sights of nature can reduce their pain during this intrusive procedure.

Perhaps next time you are going through any painful medical procedure, try playing some sounds of nature.

Try to play the sounds of nature such as the sounds of waterfall to soothe yourself next time. Credits: Pexels.
7.The closer you are to nature, you have higher tendency to exercise

Danish researchers were trying to study the relationship between distance to green space and the level of physical activity among the population of Denmark.

Later they found that those who are living more than 1km from green space had lower odds to exercise and keep shape compared with people living closer than 300m to green space.

Additionally, the scientists found that people who are living more than 1km from green space had higher chance of being obese.

With more and more news on the effects of climate change, it may be time to move closer to nature rather than the gym, don’t you think?

Instead of spending your time in the shopping mall, how about spending a day in a nature reserve with your friends and family. Credits: Pexels.
8. Lastly, nature lower risk of you dying

Forget about the Fountain of Youth, nature is the real deal to prolong your life.

A study proved that middle-aged men living in high amounts of green space have 16 per cent lower risk of dying compared with similar group living with less greenery.

Another research showcased that older people are more likely to live longer if they live near walkable greenery filled public areas.

Overall, people are just healthier, happier and have better well-being when they spend more time or live closer to nature.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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