Are you sitting at your desk feeling sluggish today? Is your health and happiness on your mind? The answer to a more vibrant existence may be to spend time outside in nature. So says a series of studies published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
Nature and Vitality
According to these studies, being outside in nature makes people feel more alive. Dr. Richard Ryan, the lead author of the study, says “Nature is fuel for the soul. Often when we feel depleted, we reach for a cup of coffee. But research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature”.
The key to this research was the effort to determine if this feeling of vitality was just a “feel-good spillover” from the physical exercise and social connection usually involved in nature treks. The research was specifically designed to test this. The research indicates that there is more than a spillover effect. The results showed that:
- As a result of immersion in nature, individuals feel more energetic.
- Being outside in nature only 20 minutes a day is sufficient to increase vitality levels.
- Being outdoors is vitalizing due to the presence of nature.
Health and Happiness in Nature
This last point is worth considering more closely. Being outdoors is good but not enough. Nature has a vitalizing effect that is independent of simply being outdoors. Walking outside in an urban environment that is lacking in nature will not be vitalizing. The presence of nature is key.
Immersion in nature not only increases vitality but also can increase well-being. Dr. Ryan suggests that “people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illness.”
Boundary Waters Rejuvenation
Take some time today to spend 20 minutes with nature – walk through a natural setting like a park or sit in your backyard. No music, cellphone or other distraction. Just look and listen. And, of course, if you are looking for deeper immersion in nature, come to the Boundary Waters for real rejuvenation of mind and body.
Paddle On. Be Free.
You can read more about the research here.