So by now, we’re all starting to get the idea that it’s important to get enough greens in our diets. You know that fruits, veggies, and superfood have a profound positive effect on your health. We made Subi to make it easy for you to get enough of them.
But the story doesn’t end there.
It’s starting to emerge that getting more greens in your environment is helpful as well. The positive impact of exposure to natural environments, like forests and the seaside, is becoming more widely accepted. What’s more, there’s growing body of evidence to support the idea that the greens outside are as important as the greens inside.
The idea that simply being in nature has significant health benefits is relatively new in the West, but it’s been a pillar of healthcare in Japan for decades.
In 1982, a national public health programme made “forest bathing” part of Japanese state healthcare strategy. Not quite exercise and not strictly meditation, forest bathing is simply about exposing yourself to the power of trees. The idea isn’t to do anything in particular, just sit, wander or explore quietly and let the forest work its magic on your health.
And, precisely, what does this “magic” look like?
Good question. And there’s a good answer for it too, because between 2004 and 2012 the Japanese spent about $4 million researching the benefits of forest bathing. The results are impressive. They found that forest environments promote lower blood pressure, lower pulse rates and lower concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. However, the most impressive effect is on the immune system. A 2009 study, found that spending time in the forest drastically increased people’s natural killer cells - your first line of defence against infections and cancers.
And anyone who spends time in the outdoors will recognise the psychological effects. Forest bathing reduces hostility, depression and stress and increases liveliness.
A study in the lancet found that access to green environments worked to mitigate the negative health consequences of income deprivation. So even if you’re broke, you can be healthy as long as you get out in the woods! For me, this is the best aspect of nature exposure: it’s free.
Now, the forest doesn’t do it for everyone, I get that. Maybe allergies are a big problem for you, accessing forest might be a challenge, or maybe you’re afraid of the big bad wolf. Either way, you might be wondering if you can get the benefits of nature exposure without specifically going to the woods.
The specifics might be different, but swimming in the sea is another great way to get health benefits from nature exposure.
As we’ve mentioned before, the sea is full of minerals. When you swim in the sea you can absorb nutrients like calcium, magnesium, sulfate and chloride through your skin. This means that a dip in the deep can alleviate skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, as well as giving healthy skin a boost.
The natural environment of the sea has similar effects to forest bathing. It reduces stress, removes distractions and calms your mind. And if you swim somewhere where the sea is cold, you can expect a boost to your immune system too.
Nature for Health
So there you have it, spending time in nature is good for your health - just like eating more vegetables. You don’t need to grow dreadlocks and move into a tree house - you’ll get the benefits from a quiet walk through some trees or a quick swim at your local shore. Try it and see how you feel after treating yourself to some time in nature.
A word of caution: Nature can be unpredictable so check your local conditions before you start. That’s weather forecasts and wildlife info in the forest, tides and water quality in the sea.
Get out and enjoy it!