We live in a very small world, thanks to the internet! It was fun recently to make the acquaintance of James Black, Scottish economist and wilderness lover. Stuck inside during the pandemic, James found our website and connected with our story from across the Atlantic. He has done a hefty amount of research into the benefits of spending time in nature. In our conversation, he offered to write a blog post talking a bit about these benefits, so, here it is. Enjoy!
There are so many things you can do to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. You can go hiking in the wilderness, take a wander through some woodlands or even just sit on the beach and breathe in the sea air!
Nowadays, it’s important to make the effort to go out and enjoy a natural environment. It might not come as a surprise to hear we spend most of their time indoors, but it certainly came as a shock to me to find out that Americans spend 90% of their time inside.
But why should we endeavor to spend more time in the great outdoors?
Keeping Your Heart Fit and Healthy
Getting out into the great outdoors is a fantastic way to keep healthy.
Walking in a forest is a great way to promote cardiovascular relaxation and lower blood pressure. It combines the benefits we would normally expect from physical exercise with the boosts to our bodies we can get from being in nature – because just being in a natural environment like a forest can help reduce our blood pressure.
And now more than ever it’s important to look after our heart health. In America, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
No matter what you do, being in nature is a great way to help your heart keep ticking along healthy.
Boosting Your Happiness
Sometimes we could all use a little mood booster. Spending time connecting with nature can be a great way to inject a little happiness into your day.
Getting out in the fresh air can help us refocus and put things back into perspective. Studies support this, including one which found that a 20-minute walk in the park boosted life satisfaction scores by 64%.
Skye McKinnell has written a fantastic post about the importance of the safe, small social interaction we experience hiking on trails for our mental health. The little acknowledgments we give each other in the great outdoors can be important ways to tackle loneliness.
So spending time in a natural environment like a forest is great for our mental health as well as our physical health.
Connecting with God
Spending time in nature is also really important for our spiritual health as well. In natural environments, we can enjoy the splendors of God’s creation.
In a forest we can take in the sights of trees that have stood since before our parents were born and listen to the songs of the birds who currently reside beneath the shelter of the canopy. By the sea, we can watch the eternal ebb and flow of the tide.
For a lot of people, it can be easier to find God here than in the urban jungle and concrete sprawl of humans.
However you choose to do it, spending time connecting with nature in the great outdoors is great for our physical, mental and spiritual health.
If you’re interested in reading more about the science behind the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors, I’ve written a summary of the outdoor research.
James Black runs Wilderness Redefined a website with the aim of promoting sustainable enjoyment of the wilderness. He hopes to make the great outdoors accessible for all so we can all enjoy the benefits it has to offer.