Health and Nature

By: Devan George, Communications Coordinator

Getting out into nature can give a person many things, recreation, calm, beauty, etc., but it can also be good for your health! According to the University of Minnesota, being out in nature can help with emotional well being, reducing anger, fear and stress. They also found that the same results come from even viewing scenes of nature, and even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety. Forest bathing, the Japanese art of sitting in the forest has increased in popularity in the U.S. over the last few years. The goal of Forest Bathing is to provide an “eco-antidote” to all the time spent on screens and to inspire human connection and protection of the forests. The act of forest bathing is to take in the atmosphere with all of your senses and truly connect with the forest. Spending time in nature can also be beneficial to our communities, a 2015 study found that an increased exposure to nature among 2,000 people resulted in community cohesion and a lower crime rate.

In addition to the emotional benefits, there are even more physical benefits. Public health researchers have found that it can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. A study conducted in 2020 at the University of Exeter found that just 2 hours a week spent in green spaces was enough to have an effect on human health. The time could be spaced out over the week or all at once, but those who spent the time were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being. A movement has begun among health care providers, to prescribe time outside in nature to patients as a method of healing and improving their health.

Here in Pike County, we are lucky to have access to over 120,000 acres of federal and state owned lands open to public use! Whether you experience nature through boating, fishing, birding, camping or hiking, there is plenty of room in Pike County to do it! September is PA trails month, so now is the perfect time to prescribe yourself time outside.

Click here to get the Pike Outdoors App. A resource with all of the trails in Pike County that will get you outside and close to nature.