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In the 18th Century, there was a custom of treating various ailments like scrofula – a form of tuberculosis – by sitting in a wooden tub and being wheeled into the ocean. While this custom didn’t cure the disease, the bygone physicians at the time were onto something. These days, researchers have discovered that those who are living by the coast report that they are healthier than those who are living inland.
Because of this, many have become curious about some of the more natural areas and communities that live near them. Are there actually benefits to living among nature? Or is it better to stomp out nature and have a city of concrete and steel? Well, research suggests that it’s better for us to hang among the trees for various reasons.
In many cities that have parks and trees scattered throughout, many residents see a number of advantages. One big one is that contact with nature or any kind of natural environment eases our stress. Part of this is due to the fact that nature provides a calming scene. For many, it’s a place to escape to after work is all done.
Another perk that more natural towns and cities gain is that nature allows them to focus more. This helps a lot as we are constantly focusing on things like work, navigating busy streets or dealing with usual demands that command our attention. When we immerse ourselves in nature, we allow ourselves to use all five of our senses and recover from our fatigue.
And while we are replenishing our mental reserves we also become less impulsive, irritable, and less likely to make slip-ups. This is coming from William Sullivan, a University of Illinois professor of landscape architecture. He says that when people come in contact with urban green spaces, people are kinder to themselves in a variety of ways.
If that wasn’t enough, towns with more nature encourage people to be more active. Of course, exercise is good, but an often ignored benefit is that time passes more quickly when we are exercising. Beautiful scenic nature can encourage us to stay out and active for longer. Furthermore, when we get outside and get fresh air, our body also comes into contact with healthy microbiome which allows us to control our stress better and build a stronger immune system.
Already people are tapping into these restorative properties and are seeing benefits already. Many communities have taken up a Japanese practice called Shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing. It’s an activity where people take leisurely and meandering strolls through nature. While some may think it’s frivolous, there is evidence of this activity boosting your immune system so that it can fight cancer on top of reducing stress hormones, blood pressure and calming your heart rate.
As you can see there are many perks surrounding oneself in nature but don’t feel left out if you live in a city filled with concrete. Research shows that communities that have some level of forestry help neighborhoods significantly. In urban areas, the verdant neighborhoods have been linked to lower risk of death from common ailments like respiratory or cardiovascular diseases that are more common amongst city dwellers. So encourage your city or neighbors to plant trees so you too can reap these benefits.