We are healthier when we get outdoors

 

Spring is back! This weather seems to call every cell of my body outside. In my last post, I promised to provide some information about how being outdoors impacts our well-being. I am now here to deliver on that promise…

CO rockies

The majority of the information I am going to offer here was primarily drawn from the book the Nature Fix by Florence Williams.*

It is a wonderful read – I highly recommend it!

In her book, she discusses the research of Qing Li, an immunologist from the department of environmental medicine at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo. Li’s research is fascinating… it focuses on NK cells, which are a type of white blood natural immune cell. He found that being outdoors boosts the number of these natural immune fighting cells in people’s bodies by 40%, with raised levels continuing to endure in our bodies for several weeks. Li suggests that our NK cells seem to be positively impacted by trees’ phytoncides, which are aromatic oils secreted by many kinds of trees.

In essence, trees support our immune system.

Andre and Amelie in xmas tree

Other researchers have found that just one leisurely walk in the woods decreases our cortisol levels (a stress hormone) by as much as 12%, decreases sympathetic nervous system activity by 7%, and decreases blood pressure by 1.4%

And did you know that a bacteria in dirt called Mycobacterium vaccae has been shown in multiple experiments to help promote the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter researchers associate with increased happiness?

Andre in Mohican

I am only brushing the surface of the research out there that supports the importance of our connection and engagement with the natural world.

So, get outdoors and enjoy!

Here’s to your relaxation, rejuvenation, and wellness.

Here’s to our precious natural world.

 

 

*Williams, F. (2017). the Nature Fix. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

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