August 28, 2018
9 Science-Backed Reasons to Add More Nature to Your Life
The more the better — here’s why
Photo courtesy of Margarita Terekhova/Unsplash
By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan
writer for The Natural
Odds are if you scroll through your Instagram feed, you’ll see a snap of someone’s bouquet of flowers, new grouping of succulents, or a Monstera leaf styled with beauty products and healing crystals. Maybe even a glamorous shot of someone doing a yoga pose what looks like a million feet away deep in the woods. Turns out all these users are onto something: Greenery is totally acceptable for your wellbeing. Check out these nine reasons why you may wanna add some more nature to your life ASAP.
1. Plants can clean the air
Don’t bother splurging on a pricey air purifier. Certain houseplants actually metabolize toxins from the air, soil, and water, releasing harmless by-products back into the air as part of photosynthesis, the means which plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. This large-scale review, conducted by NASA in 2011, shows that low-light lovers like Devil’s Ivy can affect VOC compounds. The study also showed how common airborne allergens are mitigated by certain houseplants, too.
2. They may reduce anxiety levels
One study took a look at 24 teenage boys and had them either complete a computer-related task or one related to indoor gardening. The 12 who gardened felt more comfortable, soothed, and natural afterwards than those who spent time behind the screen.
3. Being outdoors can boost mood and self-esteem
This was found to be particularly true for those who exercise: A 2010 meta-analysis found that there were huge benefits for those who worked out in nature for short bursts of time. There were even greater effects when subjects weren’t just in nature, but were around bodies of water specifically, too.
4. Plants may lower blood pressure
That same research conducted on the two dozen teenage boys found that anxiety was reduced specifically during gardening activities because of the direct correlation between greenery and suppression of diastolic blood pressure. Unsurprisingly, the sub-set that spent time at the computer had increased blood pressure.
Photo courtesy of tonl.co
5. Plants can boost productivity
A blockbuster 2014 paper published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied focused on how important having a few plants in increasingly unpersonalized workplaces. The researchers found that employees were an impressive 15 percent more productive when greenery was present than when it was not. “It appears that in part this is because a green office communicates to employees that their employer cares about them and their welfare,” said study author Alex Haslam, a psychology professor at the University of Queensland.
6. Plants improve job satisfaction
If you’ve ever worked in an office — or even been in one — you know that interpersonal tensions can run high. 444 employees were surveyed for a 2016 PLOS One paper, which found that exposure to plants and other natural elements were positively related to job satisfaction and commitment to the company, possibly because plants may help curb mental fatigue.
7. Plants can reduce fatigue
There’s a school of thought known as Attention Restoration Theory, which looks at which experiences lead to recovering from exhaustion, and it turns out that natural environments are particularly rich in the characteristics required, which has been known since 1995 when research was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
Photo courtesy of Joshua Ness/Unsplash
8. Being outdoors reduces stress
A May 2018 systematic review of 43 real-time non-laboratory studies of stress responses to the outdoors comprehensively looked at how factors such as heart rate, blood pressure, and self-reported feelings were affected amongst greenery. Activities including nature viewing, outdoor walks, outdoor exercise and gardening all helped to reduce stress levels, lower heart rates and blood pressure, and ultimately lead to a greater state of well being.
9. Being outdoors may protect your vision
While sunglasses are an important line of defense for your eyes, there’s evidence that spending time outside may actually protect your peepers. Nearsightedness — clinically known as myopia, where you need glasses to see things at a distance — was found to be reduced by 14 percent in children who spent an additional hour per week outdoors in a Canadian study. While the research couldn’t determine why exactly, one school of thought suggests that the more time outside, the more time eyes have to focus on objects farther away.
So, what now?
Besides getting outside or bringing the greenery in, the best way to get in touch with nature is to give back to it.
The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring action to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Founded in 1977 by Dr. Goodall, JGI makes a difference through community-centered conservation and the innovative use of science and technology. The Institute works closely with local communities around the world, inspiring hope through the collective power of individual action. Through Roots & Shoots, JGI’s youth-led community action and learning program, young people in 100 countries are acquiring the knowledge and skills to become compassionate conservation leaders in their own backyards.
Photo courtesy of Schmidt’s Naturals
Schmidt’s Naturals is getting involved by partnering with JGI to create a special edition natural deodorant scent, Lily of the Valley, in which 5 percent of every Lily of the Valley purchase will benefit JGI’s efforts to protect animals and conserve the environment.
Learn how you can get involved with the Jane Goodall Institute at www.janegoodall.org.
Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional.