The Simple Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
John Keats once wrote, “The poetry of the earth is never dead.”
Almost all of us have been moved by nature at one time or another. Whether it is walking on the beach; walking alongside a stream or river; watching a sunset; listening to the birds chirping; or hearing the wind blow through the trees in the morning, nature can make you feel energized and alive. Research indicates that there are rich and measurable benefits to being in nature.
“Research has shown 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 illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings,” Richard Ryan.
Why is time in nature important? A series of studies in 2010 coordinated by Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester confirms that the experience of being in natures causes people to feel more alive. Ryan sums it up by saying, “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.” Better yet, nature not only makes us feel more alive and energized, it has proven to benefit both our mental and physical health, and our overall sense of well-being.
Ryan and others conducted a series of tests using college students to prove their point. In one test subjects were taken on either a 15-minute walk in nature or another in a building with long hallways. A second test had participants view a slide show of nature shots or in contrast, buildings around the country. A third test asked those involved to imagine themselves in a variety of situations both active and sedentary, as well as inside a building or outside. In addition, subjects spent a series of days recording their exercise, social interactions, time spent outside and inside (including time with by windows and with plants). According to the test results in every single instance, those involved felt consistently more energetic when they spent time in natural surroundings. Just 20 minutes a day was a significant benchmark for improved vitality.
I agree with Ryan’s research findings summarized above — I feel better and more energized after being outside. While we were in Vermont, the temperatures were cool and the views were beautiful. It felt really nice to spend our days outside surrounded by the mountains versus f inside behind a computer screen. It was very peaceful and serene — a welcome change. Of course, we enjoyed being with little Biscuit who was always making sure that he is not being left behind! Doug and I did not leave him by himself at all — thank goodness everything was dog friendly! When we packed the bulk of our things in the car the night before our departure, Biscuit patiently sat beside the car to ensure that he was not going to be left at the hotel! Biscuit was on “high alert!” Nevertheless, Biscuit had a great time! (I hope to share more photos soon after I have a chance to finish editing the images from our trip!) Even though we now are playing “catch up,” it was a welcome change to mix things up with a change of scenery and connect with nature!
It is incredibly hot and humid right now in Maryland, but we are looking forward to spending more time outside! Below are a few photographs of the beautiful views of Vermont!