The Benefits of Spending Time in Nature

By August 13, 2021Health Tips
With our modern lifestyle, we spend most of our time indoors.  In fact, on average, Americans spend nearly 93% of their time indoors.  I think people seem to know instinctively that spending time outdoors in nature is a good thing, but can we prove it?  Over the last 20 years, there have been about 1000 different research studies that do just that.  They show how important it is for us to spend time in nature.  Time spent in nature (as long as you feel safe) benefits us both physically and mentally.  It benefits people of all ages.  Let’s talk about how nature can help us live a more healthy and happy life.
What are the physical benefits of spending time in nature?The Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
Your risk of heart disease, stroke, and even cancer can be lowered by spending time in nature.  This happens because spending time in nature can:
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower levels of stress hormones
  • Lower heart rate
  • Increase Vitamin D levels
  • Improve immune system function
  • Reduce nervous system arousal
  • Improve the rate of healing
  • Reduce muscle tension
  • Reduce chronic pain
What are the psychological benefits of spending time in nature?
Nature provides many benefits mentally and emotionally.  Here are a few:
  • Improves concentration and memory
  • Improves creative thinking
  • Enhances relaxation
  • Enhances the sense of well-being
  • Reduces aggression
  • Reduces the amount of time you spend dwelling on negative issues
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Results in a sense of belonging to the wider world, which is vital for mental health
  • Improves personal relationships by improving feelings/behaviors of generosity and empathy
  • Improves depression – If your depression is serious, you should see a mental health professional, in addition to spending time in nature.
How much time do you need to spend in nature to see a benefit?
This can vary from one person to the next, but studies indicate that 120 minutes a week is the magic number.  According to the research, most people have a noticeable change in measurable outcomes (like blood pressure and pulse rate) within 10 minutes of being in nature.  But to see those benefits follow you back home, it looks like 120 minutes a week is the goal you should be trying to achieve.
Two hours may seem like a lot, but when you consider that you can spread that 120 minutes over the entire week, I think that is goal we can reach.  That is less than 18 minutes a day.  You might want to shoot for 10-12 minutes a day during the week, then make up the other time on the weekend days.
Remember that 120 minutes is the low end of the goal.  If you can spend 4-5 hours a week in nature, that is even better!
Just what counts as being in nature?
Some of the benefit comes from the activity that we tend to do in natural settings, such as walking, hiking, biking, etc., but it doesn’t take much activity to see benefits.  Just being in nature, just sitting there surrounded by the natural world, provides great benefit.  This is true during all seasons of the year.  It does not have to be the perfect summer day.
You may be thinking that “nature” is not close enough for you to get to it every day.  Can I just watch a nature video?  However, it is not just a visual thing.  It is the combination of the shade of the trees, the sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees, the array of colors, particularly green, the smells of wood and flowers and even dirt, the sunlight on your skin, the wind blowing on your skin and through your hair, and the disconnecting from the devices, that all come together to cause these wonderful health benefits.  Of course, if you cannot get out in nature, having a view of trees from your window, or watching a nature video can provide some benefit.  But nothing beats the real thing!
You can get these benefits by taking a walk in a local city park, preferably one with plenty of trees.  Maybe there is a walking trail in your area that goes through some green spaces.  If you have trees in your yard, have a picnic under the trees.  If there is a state park where you can go for a hike on the weekend, that is even better.
Take the kids, leave the phones at home (maybe bring one in case of an emergency that is turned off unless you need it) and let nature help you live a happier, healthier life.
If you have any questions about the benefits of spending time in nature, please log into your account and send
us your question. We are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
  • Sign in to your account

    Forgot screen name or password?


    First time user?
    Register your account now.

    Register Now

    Need Assistance?
    Contact us at 1-866-525-3362