Nature and Your Health: The Connection You May Not Know About

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Given the choice to take a walk around the office or go for a hike, most would choose to hit a hiking trail (at least we should hope so). There is just something about nature: It lifts our mood, and according to research, it’s not just the idea of soaking up the sunshine that makes us smile — in fact, there are multiple connections between nature and your health. 

Researchers at the University of Illinois recently compiled evidence relating to the idea of getting outdoors and how it can help fight over 21 diseases. Although there is not one specific piece of evidence that points to why nature has a positive effect on your health, information pulled from previous studies points to the overall immunity boost that nature provides.

The connection between nature and health benefits was discussed by lead researcher Ming Kuo in the published study. Research has found evidence that spending time in nature provides protection against a startling range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more. How this exposure to green space leads to better health has remained a mystery. After reviewing hundreds of studies Kuo believes the answer lies in nature’s ability to enhance the functioning of the body’s immune system.

“I pulled every bit of the research in this area together that I could find, and was surprised to realize I could trace as many as 21 possible pathways between nature and good health — and even more surprised to realize that all but two of the pathways shared a single common denominator,” Ming Kuo told the study, which was published in Frontiers in Psychology.

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Beyond the health benefits pertaining to fighting disease, spending time in nature also can improve focus. According to a study published in Psychological Science, allowing your brain to take a break from everyday overstimulation which comes from technology and everyday activities can improve focus and brain health. 

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed and unproductive at your desk, it may be a good idea to put your phone down and get out of the office. Instead of heading over to your office coffee machine, take a walk outside and enjoy the sunshine. 

Stopping and smelling the roses, or going outside long enough to realize the rose bush is in bloom, will not only make you happier, but it will also make you healthier. So rather than feeling like taking some time outside will add more stress to your day, look at is as a way to boost your immunity and improve focus.

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