Humans have long perceived there to be a connection between health and exposure to nature. For centuries, parks and other green spaces have been interwoven into cities to provide spaces for people to relax and recharge. Even as far back as the 16th century, German physician Paracelsus said, “The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician.” However, until recently, there has been little known about the actual mechanisms in nature that produce the positive physiological and psychological benefits that contribute to health and well-being. Today, physicians and researchers have a renewed interest in this relationship and are studying the phenomenon at a greater depth in order to maximize their potential to help patients.
The Beneficial Link Between Health and Nature
Thanks to researchers, scholars, and practitioners that study the topic, we now know that nature can reduce stress, soothe mental health conditions, and combat obesity, according to research compiled by Texas Parks and Wildlife, Children and Nature, and the National Wildlife Federation. The American Public Health Association agrees: “People of all ages and abilities enjoy higher levels of health and well-being when they have nature nearby in parks, gardens, greenways, naturalized schoolyards and playgrounds, and natural landscaping around homes and workplaces. Access to nature has been related to lower levels of mortality and illness, higher levels of outdoor physical activity, restoration from stress, a greater sense of well-being, and greater social capital.”
We also know that early play in nature contributes to the capacity for creativity, problem solving, and emotional and intellectual development, among other physical abilities people can get as speed and coordination, that can also be improved with the use of equipment as a balance disc amazon to train at home. However, urbanization, combined with our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, make us less likely to experience nature in our daily lives. For example, children today spend half as much time outdoors as children did 20 years ago; yet they spend nearly 8 hours per day using entertainment media. This has a significant impact on our state’s growing obesity rate – now the 5th highest in the nation for high school students. In fact, today’s children may be the first generation with life expectancies shorter than their parents.
Texan by Nature is helping Texans understand how important the conservation of our natural environment is to our prosperity and quality of life. But now we know that the natural world doesn’t just contribute to our economy and our strong identity as Texans, it is also essential to our mental and physical health.