Research into the importance of nature for health started about 20-30 years ago. The environmental psychologists and couple Rachel and Stephen Kaplan from the US were pioneers and they showed that being in nature could have restorative as well as reconstructive effects. There was even evidence that an aquarium or pictures of nature in health care facilities could have a positive impact on both patients and staff. Access to the greenery in the office also made employees less stressed, more satisfied with their jobs, and more creative.
Today, in Sweden research is conducted in Alnarp in Skåne and SLU in Umeå that supports the idea that we feel positive effects when we spend time in green outdoor environments or in the forest. Research carried out in Sweden shows positive effect on preschool children, school children and the elderly, where concentration, motor skills, balance are some characteristics that improve when they spend time outdoors. In today’s information society, the brain daily sorts a large amount of information, so-called. directed attention. If it becomes too much, we can suffer severe stress and fatigue. In contrast, when we are out in the forest or wood, we experience something called “spontaneous fascination”. These impressions can be, for example, to see butterflies, hear birds, feel the leaves, smell and breathe fresh air. Although the forest, seaside or meadow offers much information, it seems as if the information does not require the same attention and energy of our brain. It becomes instead a recovery.
What happens physically in our bodies when we are out in the woods?
- Reduces stress and improves recovery.
- Relaxation, power replenishment. Spontaneous fascination and restorative effects.
- Reduces pain.
- Increase motivation for physical activity.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Contributes to increased socio-economic values and social sustainable development.
- Decreases aggressive behaviour.
- Improves learning, memory and concentration in people of all ages.
- Social Ecologists demonstrate the importance of green space in the urban environment. To be close to a green space (no more than 250-300 meters away) have major socio-economic values. This is something that is receiving more and more attention when planning new residential areas.
So make sure that you regularly visit your local forest or wood. Nature is there when you need it.