Studies show that those who live among nature are the most happy and healthy.
That doesn’t surprise us.
While the city is a great place to live, work and play, you have to admit that getting out and reconnecting with nature feels good. We’re not saying that urban areas resemble the opening scene from “Terminator 2,” but research has consistently shown that mental health issues, including mood and anxiety disorders, are more prevalent in city dwellers.
Being around more trees, on the other hand, lowers stress and depression and improves work productivity. Studies have even found that pregnant women living in houses graced by more trees were significantly less likely to deliver undersized babies.
Just 20 minutes a day among the trees can boost your mood and energy levels, studies show.
"Nature is fuel for the soul," said Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, in a release. "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."
While these words have been echoed throughout history they still ring true. According to the principles of Attention Restoration Theory, taking a stroll in the woods is a powerful tool for refocusing the mind and revitalizing the body. Why? Because nature engages our "involuntary" attention — effortless form of engagement with your environment — while urban landscapes require active or "voluntary" attention in order to dodge cabbies, cyclists and an array of blinking lights, signs and people. Our voluntary attention has a chance to recharge while we’re among nature.
A study conducted across neighborhoods in Wisconsin, recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that cross all levels of society, people who lived in a neighborhood with less than 10% tree coverage were much more likely to report symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety, according to a release. So, for example, a poor person living on a logging road in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest was more likely to be happy than a wealthier person living on a treeless block in Milwaukee.
“The greening of neighborhoods could be a simple solution to reducing stress,” said Dr. Kristen Malecki, assistant professor of population health sciences at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health in a release. “If you want to feel better, go outside.”