The field of ecotherapy—the idea of connecting to nature to aid your well-being also known as green therapy—isn't really a new thing.
Written in 1984 a book called Biophilia hypothesis, by Edward O. Wilson, put forward a theory that the affiliation we have with nature is rooted in our biology and genetics.
In the 80's, Japanese doctors prescribe forest bathing for optimum health. Also know as Shrinrin-Yoku.
The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:
Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body's Natural Killer (NK) cells.
Reduced blood pressure
Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
Increased energy level
In Norway, 19th-century poet Henrick Ibsen coined the word "friluftsliv"—meaning "open-air living," which soon turned into a Scandinavian cultural phenomenon.
Feeling down? Go take a hike!
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
For a long time, the scientific connection between nature and good health remained a mystery. Ming Kuo, a researcher from the University of Illinois, conducted an analysis on every study she could find on the connection between nature and good health. The link was overwhelmingly clear: It’s the immune system.
In her research, Ming Kuo found as many as 21 possible pathways between nature and good health and all but two of these could be linked to the immune system. She compared being in nature to taking a multivitamin that provides us with all the nutrients our bodies need to simultaneously protect us from all types of physical and mental ailments. How cool is that?!
But how does the immune system actually get a boost from nature?
For one, it switches the body into “rest and digest” mode — the opposite of “fight or flight,” a well-known immune system killer.
When we feel content, happy and safe and not fixated on a problem or stress — the body can invest more energy towards the immune system, rather than wasting that energy on a work project with a deadline fast approaching!
The parasympathetic nervous system is one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Sometimes called the rest and digest system. When the parasympathetic nervous system is dominant in the body it conserves energy, slows heart rate, increases digestion and relaxes sphincter muscles in the digestive tract. When we experience stress, and a 'flight or fight' response is activated, our digestive system can be significantly affected.
Also, being outside has inherent immune-boosting qualities such as:
* Vitamin D from the sun.
* Negative ions - Negative ions are beneficial for the human body while positive ions are harmful. In fact, you will find the highest concentrations of negative ions in natural, clean air.
* Phytoncides - Phytoncide is a substance emitted by plants & trees and generally means the aroma of the forest
*Mycobacterium vaccae - Mycobacterium vaccae is a nonpathogenic species of the Mycobacteriaceae family of bacteria that lives naturally in soil. This is actually GOOD for you.
If you love the ocean...go! If you love the mountains...go! If you love gardening....do it!
The bottom line is, get outside and connect with nature!
If you live in the city and don’t really have the means to go to a completely natural setting, simply go out for a walk, sit under a tree in the park or put your bare feet on the ground or your toes in the dirt!
Get connected to nature in some way!
Bring it into your home with things like live plants, start an indoor herb garden, or even a fish tank, which has also been found to improve mental health...GO FISHY!
Integrity Health is a franchise company residing in New Hampshire. We specialize in health coaching centers combining fitness with weight loss to optimize and promote optimal health. We are also the national purveyors of the EZCOACH Fitness Prescription System licensed by fitness professionals.