The soothing effect of nature is no secret to Coloradans who flock to the mountains winter and summer to enjoy the resplendent landscape. We leave our stresses behind and appreciate the rejuvenation that comes with being outdoors.
We have always understood the benefits of nature instinctively. But now, research increasingly shows that our experience is based in science.
A National Geographic article recently reported on current research about nature’s beneficial effect. Scientists, it notes, have “begun to quantify what once seemed divine and mysterious…Measurements – of everything from stress hormones to heart rate to brain waves to protein markers—indicate that when we spend time in green space,” we show profound health benefits.
Among the revealing research cited:
- A University of Utah cognitive psychologist has found that being in nature results in a “three-day effect”; by the third day, EEG brain wave measurements show a boost in qualitative thinking.
- Dutch researchers discovered that those living within about a half mile of green space had a lower incidence of 15 diseases, “including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and migraines.”
- In a study of 31,000 Toronto residents, “those living on blocks with more trees showed a boost in heart and metabolic health equivalent to what one would experience from a $20,000 gain in income.”
- A University of Glasgow researcher found that those who can see trees and grass “have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behavior in neighborhoods where it’s common.”
By any measure, homeowners in Colorado are sitting pretty: With the state’s many greenbelts, parks and acres of mountain trails, the opportunities for interaction with nature are endless — as are the benefits. “Imagine a therapy that had no known side effects, was readily available, and could improve your cognitive functioning at zero cost,” one study noted.