Why Nature is Good For Us (scientific studies)


Better Mental Health (from seeing nature)

"People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighbourhoods are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress." (Link)

Doses of Neighborhood Nature: The Benefits for Mental Health of Living with Nature. Daniel T. C. Cox,  Danielle F. Shanahan,  Hannah L. Hudson,  Kate E. Plummer, Gavin M. Siriwardena,  Richard A. Fuller,  Karen Anderson,  Steven Hancock, Kevin J. Gaston. Bio Science Oxford Academic, 2017. (Link)


Increases Positive Emotions (Awe, Contentment, Joy)

"Watching nature programs will have a direct and uplifting impact on the mood and well-being of its viewers, according to a new study released by BBC Earth, the BBC’s global factual brand. “The Real Happiness Project,” which aims to promote the benefits of connectivity with nature via linear and digital platforms, was conducted by BBC Worldwide’s in-house research team with Professor Dacher Keltner, who oversees psychology at the University of California, Berkeley"

The Real Happiness Project - BBC Earth

 
Supports Relaxation and Recovery After Stress

"Keeping a few snapshots of greenery around your work desk might not be a bad idea. When participants viewed the natural images in the experiment, their stress levels lowered. "Viewing green scenes may thus be particularly effective in supporting relaxation and recovery after experiencing a stressful period, and thereby could serve as an opportunity for micro-restorative experiences and a promising tool in preventing chronic stress and stress-related diseases." the study states." (Link)

Autonomic Nervous System Responses to Viewing Green and Built Settings: Differentiating Between Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Activity.  Magdalena M.H.E. van den Berg, Jolanda Maas, Rianne Muller, Anoek Braun, Wendy Kaandorp, René van Lien, Mireille N.M. van Poppel, Willem van Mechelen, and Agnes E. van den Berg. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015.


Restores Attention

"Participants who briefly viewed the green roof (for forty seconds) made significantly lower omission errors, and showed more consistent responding to the task compared to participants who viewed the concrete roof." (Link)

40-second green roof views sustain attention: The role of micro-breaks in attention restoration. Kate E. Lee, Kathryn J.H. Williams, Leisa D. Sargent, Nicholas S.G. Williams, Katherine A. Johnson. Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 42, June 2015, Pages 182–189.  (Link)


More Cooperative

"The nature-focused, 12 minute videos once again had the effect of “producing more pro-social responses” in the fishing game. “These effects do not depend on nature’s pleasantness,” noted the authors." (Link)

Journal of Environmental Psychology, John M. Zelenski, 2015


Less than Six-Minutes to Decrease Stress Levels 

This study of 160 people, showed that as "the amount of tree-density people viewed increased, so did stress reduction.  In other words, the denser the forest, the lower the stress, which suggests that taking a walk down a tree-lined street - or better yet, heading out to a park - could prove beneficial to your mental wellbeing."

A Dose-Response Curve Describing the Relationship Between Urban Tree Cover Density and Self-Reported Stress Recovery. Bin Jiang, Dongying Li, Linda Larsen, William C. Sullivan. Sage Journals - Environment and Behavior, 2014.


Feeling more Positive

"One recent study tested over 1,200 elderly adults. Those who had not engaged in outdoor recreation in the past year were the most prone to major depression. Those who spent time outside four or more times a week suffered the least depression." (Link)

The relationship between outdoor recreation and depression among older adults. Keith Christensen. World Leisure Journal, 2013.


Lower Stress Levels

"A 2013 study did just this, testing saliva sampled before and after study participants sat in various settings (natural and urban) for 20 minutes. They found evidence that spending time in a natural environment reduces stress."

The Influence of Urban Natural and Built Environments on Physiological and Psychological Measures of Stress— A Pilot Study by Kurt Beil and Douglas Hanes, 2013 (Link)


As Energizing as Coffee

"Just 20 minutes outdoors can have the same pick-me-up effect as a cup of coffee because of the instantly energizing powers of nature, according to psychologists." (Link)

Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature. Richard M. Ryan, Netta Weinstein, Jessey Bernstein, Kirk Warren Brown, Louis Mistretta, Marylène Gagné. Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 30, Issue 2, June 2010, Pages 159–168. (Link)


Psychological Benefits

"The degree of psychological benefit was positively related to species richness of plants and to a lesser extent of birds, both taxa where perceived richness corresponded with sampled richness. (Well-being measures focused on greenspace as a source of cognitive restoration, positive emotional bonds and sense of identity.) While benefits did increase with greenspace area, the relationships with plant and bird richness were generally stronger. " (Link)

Psychological benefits of greenspace increase with biodiversity. Richard A Fuller , Katherine N Irvine , Patrick Devine-Wright , Philip H Warren , Kevin J Gaston. The Royal Society Biology Letters, August 2007.


Lower Feelings of Depression and Anxiety

"One study conducted at Japan's Kyoto University found that participants who went on a walk through pine forests (for 15 min) returned with significantly lower depression, hostility and anxiety levels. The study also found that stressed-out participants had a greater feeling of relaxation after being surrounded by the scent."  (Link)

Psychological effects of forest environments on healthy adults: Shinrin-yoku (forest-air bathing, walking) as a possible method of stress reduction.  Morita E1, Fukuda S, Nagano J, Hamajima N, Yamamoto H, Iwai Y, Nakashima T, Ohira H, Shirakawa T. Public Health. 2007.


Increase in Health

"The study showed that living in a green environment was positively related to all three available health indicators, even stronger than urbanity at the municipal level.  Basically health increased with the amount of greenspace in one’s living environment."

Natural environments -- healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between greenspace and health. Sjerp de Vries, Robert A Verheij, Peter P Groenewegen, Peter Spreeuwenberg, Sage Journals, Environment and Planning - 2003 (Link)


Increase in Healing Rates

"In 1984, a classic study found that hospital patients recovered from surgery quicker if their room offered a view of nature compared to those who looked out on a brick wall" (Link)

View through a window may influence recovery from surgery.  R.S. Ulrich. Science Journal. 1984: Vol. 224, Issue 4647.