Have you ever wondered why your general well being improves when you spend some time in the fresh air?
Based on research, the time we spend in nature gives us a range of beneficial effects.
1. Immune system
Studies have shown that several hours spent in the forest increase the number of white blood cells in the circulation. This increases the effectiveness of the immune system and these positive effects may last for several days. One of the reasons to improve the immune system is to inhale phytoncides in nature, molecules emitted by plants that have a positive effect on our immune system.
2. Mood improvement
When we spend time in nature, we feel better, and this has been proven on healthy people as well as those suffering from depression. The time we spend in fresh air has an indirect effect on the increased levels of serotonin in the brain while also reducing cortisol levels.
3. Better memory
The fresh air in nature contains more oxygen, which is food for the brain. Oxygen supply plays a role in short-term and long-term memory. When we have to deal with difficult mental tasks or when we study, going into nature can be an excellent pre-preparation.
4. Better attention
Nature has a strong influence on our brain, and this has been proven by a study which, by displaying images of nature alone, has improved the result of the attention test.
The natural environment alleviates symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well. There are several theories as to why nature has such a powerful influence on us, but it certainly has a beneficial effect.
Prolonged time spent in polluted air increases our blood pressure. We equate polluted air with lower oxygen content, higher particle matter and harmful volatile substances. In an environment rich with oxygen, the lungs and bloodstream detoxify, blood thins, and blood circulation hastens. Let us not forget to breathe deeply, since oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange is the most effective in the lower part of the lungs. Meditation in nature is therefore mental and physical detoxification.
6. Accelerated metabolism
Rapid blood circulation also speeds up our metabolism. Therefore, for people wishing to increase metabolic capacity, walking in nature is more useful than the same activity indoors.
7. More intensive workout
When we start to run out of oxygen during exercise, due to increased usage of oxygen in the muscles, our productivity drops. Exercise in fresh air, where oxygen levels are higher, can therefore be more intense than the same exercise in a closed space.
8. Better sleep
All of the effects mentioned above have an indirect effect on better quality of sleep. This provides us with further regenerating at a physical and mental level.
Air pollution is not only a phenomenon in urban centers but also in our homes. A certain level of pollution will always be present in enclosed spaces regardless of the ventilation system. The pollution in our homes is influenced by, among other things, the way we heat our homes, the choice of cleaning products and house perfumes, the use of indoor fireplace, and upholstered furniture.
Whenever possible, switch the enclosed gym, business premises and living rooms for a walk in nature. Let us return to it as often as possible, with respect and awareness that it offers everything we need.
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." - John Muir
Bratman et al. (2015) The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition
Gramble et al. (2014) Not just scenery: viewing nature pictures improves executive attention in older adults
Taylor et al. (2009) Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park