Posted by: tk729 | November 12, 2010

Closer You Live to Nature, The Healthier You Are Likely To Be

I have always wondered what effects nature had on your health.  Being from Pennsylvania where rolling green hills reign supreme, coming to Utah was a shock to my system.  The simple drive from Salt Lake City to Provo made me feel deprived of the green foliage I was accustomed to from the East.  Fortunately, the beautiful mountains made up for what my body was denied in greenery.

According to a study, just 5 minutes doing something in the park, in the woods, or even in your backyard can boost mental health.  Humans have a deep-seated need for contact with nature, which researchers theorize provides relaxing time for a brain that is otherwise overtaxed by modern pressures.  No wonder that we crave the beach, the mountains, or just solitude in the wilderness from civilization.

Below is an article that speaks of how nature can help close the gap between the rich and poor.


Study Finds Access to Nature Improves Health

Proof at last: living near parks and woodland boosts health, regardless of social class. Access to green spaces, whether they be rolling chalk downs or simple playing fields, has an independently beneficial impact on health and health-related behaviour which counteracts the effects of poverty and inner-city deprivation, the research by scientists found.

The links between serious illnesses and poverty are well established, but this is the first time scientists have systematically shown that the health gap between rich and poor can be halved with the help of green spaces.

When all deaths were analysed, the gulf in health between the rich and the poor in the greenest areas of Britain was roughly half of that observed in the least green parts of the country, according to the findings published in the medical journal The Lancet.

The difference between those living in the greenest and least green areas was largest when looking at deaths from circulatory diseases.

However, the scientists found that living near green space had little effect for death from lung cancer, which is only weakly linked with exercise; or for death by self-harming.

The authors of the study, Richard Mitchell, of Glasgow University, and Frank Popham, of the University of St Andrews, believe that the findings are strong enough for planning authorities to consider making green spaces available on grounds of health and wellbeing.

“Populations that are exposed to the greenest environments have the lowest levels of health inequality related to income deprivation,” they said.

“Evidence suggests that contact with such environments has independent salutogenic effects, for example, green spaces independently promote physical activity.

“However, the effect of green space is not solely based on promotion or enhancement of physical activity. Several studies have shown that contact (either by presence or visual) with green spaces can by psychologically and physiologically restorative, reducing blood pressure and stress levels and possibly promoting faster healing in patients after surgical intervention.”

They conclude: “The implications of this study are clear: environments that promote good health might be crucial in the fight to reduce health inequalities.”



  1. I’ve never heard of a study done on this so that is very interesting to hear. I definitely think God created nature partly for our benefit and I definitely feel lucky to be surrounded by the beautiful mountains in Provo.

    • I agree that being around God’s creations in the right spirit can do many things to better our health.

  2. I think it is very interesting the effects that greenery can have on health. It sounds like this is an area that is under recognized. If it has such a big impact on us, we should promote more green space in public health!

  3. This is a neat idea!! I absolutely love being in nature and literally just sit there and think of how beautiful it is. It makes me even happier to know that this craving that I have is something real and is improving my mental health.

  4. I always wondered why I love the moutains so much. I have to go hiking frequently to get my fixs. My son-in-law once said of me that I just come a live when I get in the mountains. I love the green of pennsylvania too!

  5. I’m from Maine and lived on a farm and 16 acres. But I hated going outside and being active! In Maine there are crazy amounts of bugs due to the humidity and perfect living conditions! So I really learned to hate the outdoors because I was tired of picking gross bugs off my skin- especially the ticks!

  6. I know that real nature, and the outdoors is by far the best, but in my stress management class we did these relaxation techniques and one of them was a visualization technique where you visualized yourself in a scene such as a beach or the forest, etc. This amazingly gave me a very similar feeling to being in that place and the peace, exhilaration and clarity it brings. I think it is a great mechanism for those times when nature may be harder to access such as winter or other times when you can’t get away. The better and more imaginative the scene (including smells, sounds, and textures) the better the results.

  7. This makes sense to me, I love going into the woods, on lakes or in the mountains. I feel very peaceful and my mind focuses for a moment. It’s quite wonderful, thank you for the study.

  8. I grew up in Utah and then when I moved to Washington last summer it was a shock to me to see all of the greenery and foliage. After being in Washington all summer and playing in parks and in the green it was a shock to move back to Utah and feel like the world was dead. Nature definitely affects my mood.

  9. This is a really interesting study. I do feel better after I spend time running around outside, even if for a little while. It’s almost as if fresh air just clears your mind.

  10. I definitely agree that nature improves health. I even feel healthier mentally after I spend time outside doing something I love, like riding my bike or hiking.

  11. The sun, air and moving your body can do a lot more for your mental health. I think it so good to be putting these types of studies out there for people to read because it will motivate people to get out more. At the same time there are so many people that don’t live in areas where they can’t. Thanks for posting!

  12. Wow! I completely agree. Being outdoors definitely improves my mood and is one of the best places I feel the Spirit. It makes perfect sense it’s better for your health.

  13. This is really interesting. I have always loved nature, but never really thought about it making me healthier. I guess when you think about it, it makes sense though. Thanks for making this connection!

  14. I totally agree! Nothing like playing outside to cure any sour mood!!!! The energy I can absorb from being outside is irreplaceable!!!

  15. I feel the same way! I’m from Oregon where it is green and beautiful and it’s always a hard thing to come back to the desert and flat land of Utah Valley. I think one reason why I love being in nature so much is it really helps me appreciate the beautiful world we have!

  16. Nature has a huge impact on my mood and definitely impacts my health choices. When I am surrounded by beautiful scenery, I am happier and want to be outside and active.

  17. I am a fan of this study! I always thought there was something different about being outside. As a kid I always loved playing outside- it was refreshing. And even now I feel that same sense of renewal each time I step outside to go exercise. Im glad there is a study that backs up the feelings I’ve had for a long time!

  18. I love this concept! I have always believed it was true even though I had no scientific backing to support my idea, however, whenever I get all wound up and stressed out, my first desire is to go camping and get away from it all.

  19. I whole-heartedly agree with this! I love being outside and love how I feel outside. Just the other day I had some school projects to finish and had been either in classes or in the computer lab looking at the computer screen almost all day. By the end of the day I felt so stifled. I was so grateful for the walk home, even though it was late and cold outside.

  20. This totally makes sense. I love nature. It is so calming and relaxing.

  21. I loved that article!! I am a very very outdoorsy girl and know that when I have the opportunity to be out in nature I am much happier and healthier. I spent Spring Summer here in Provo this last year and I must say, it was the best summer ever. I hiked, camped, fished, rock-climbed and swam all summer and I was so happy and healthy. Being out in the sun and nature, you gain an appreciation for all life and your body when you are able to take part in nature. I strongly believe that having access to areas of nature and recreation increases happiness, physical strength and overall health.

  22. Great post! I couldn’t agree more that nature has positive effects on you.

  23. I like how the article concluded that natural environments could be used to eliminate health inequalities. There are so many health disparities and I have never thought of how much the environment plays a role in them, but it makes total sense.

  24. I have never heard of this study before. But of course it makes sense that living close to parks and woodland would boost health. I loved growing up in the east where there’s lost of woodland and parks to exercise and enjoy nature.

  25. I agree! When I lived close to nature in Idaho, I felt MUCH healthier than I did in the city life of San Salvador or even here in Provo. Though close to nature, it is not enough as it was for me in Idaho.

  26. I keep feeling a desire to move out to wide open spaces. Maybe it’s my body telling me nature is calling? 🙂 Coming from a greener (and less industrial/residential) area than here in Provo, I really miss living in a house with trees all around it…

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